Canucks sign star centre Elias Pettersson to eight-year contract extension

Selected fifth overall by the Canucks in the 2017 NHL draft, Pettersson has 165 goals and 233 assists over 387 career games.

Canucks sign star centre Elias Pettersson to eight-year contract extension

VANCOUVER — A commitment to supporting a winning team, a strong relationship with management and talk of the club's long-term vision helped convince Vancouver star centre Elias Pettersson to tie his long-term future to the Canucks. 

The team announced Saturday that Pettersson has agreed to an eight-year contract extension. 

Terms of the deal, which kicks in next season, were not disclosed. Media reports indicate the extension is worth an average annual value of US$11.6 million.

"I'm super excited, this is where I wanted to be," Pettersson said at a morning news conference. 

He referenced the impact president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin have had in helping assure him his future was in Vancouver.

"I always wanted to play for a good team and I wanted to see where this team was heading and ever since Jim and Patrik have come in, obviously getting to know them and seeing the direction we're going in as an organization, I've liked everything I've seen," he said.

Pettersson's current contract has a cap hit of $7.35 million and expires after this season.

The 25-year-old Swede has 29 goals and 46 assists in 62 games this season, good for second on the team in points behind J.T. Miller.

"This shows the commitment from the Aquilini family and the organization to build a championship team here in Vancouver," said Allvin.

Allvin said the process of re-signing the Swedish centre began two years ago when he joined the front office.

"Building the relationship with Elias, showing him the vision and I fully respected him and his agents here for taking their time (to) get to know us," Allvin said.

"It was an exciting time when Elias hinted he wanted to stay here. There was never any doubt that he never wanted to stay here, from my view of it, I think it was more about the trust and vision he wanted to see here."

Selected fifth overall by the Canucks in the 2017 NHL draft, Pettersson has 165 goals and 233 assists over 387 career games.

Pettersson won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2018-19 after leading all first-year players in scoring with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists).

After injuring his wrist during the 2021-22 season, Pettersson came on strong in 2022-23 with his first 100-point season, producing 39 goals and 63 assists in 80 games.

Entering Saturday's games, the 38-17-7 Canucks have 83 points this season, good for a 10-point lead on second-place Vegas in the Pacific Division standings.

Pettersson's future has been a topic of hot debate, with Rutherford and Allvin questioned repeatedly in recent months about his long-term future.

Rutherford has reiterated to media that Pettersson wanted to focus on his playing performance this season and focus on a deal once the season ended.

"We can wait," Rutherford told reporters in January after signing his own contract extension. "I'll say the obvious, we keep saying it over and over — we really want him to stay. He's a very special player. He's very important to the Canucks, he's very important to the city."

Pettersson acknowledged his desire to stay quiet on contract negotiations during the season, adding that he was approaching the upcoming off-season as a restricted free agent and felt in no rush to sign with Vancouver until he saw the team and front office's intentions.

"The thought was always to be here long-term," he said. "The more talk with Jim and Patrik and my family, and what I want, and seeing the future and vision of the team made it clear."

Allvin said signing Pettersson helps provide clarity on Vancouver's salary-cap situation heading into next week's trade deadline and also locks down a core player.

For Pettersson, he said the contract negotiations have been stressful for his family and he's pleased to have a happy conclusion.

"Both parents have probably been nervous throughout this whole journey and contract talks, and talking to them yesterday and getting a bit emotional with them for how big of a decision this is, I'm super happy," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press