Hard to believe one of the top defensemen taken in the 2014 draft was playing center just a couple years ago, but that’s the story with Marcus Pettersson. Taken 38th overall by Anaheim, the lanky Swede was just the seventh D-man drafted in his class, yet scouts have been swarming him all year thanks to his upside.
“He’s a very intelligent hockey player,” said Ducks GM Bob Murray. “He’s very smart moving the puck and in today’s game, getting the puck out of your own zone is key. As we’ve seen with other Swedish players, they grow and develop later in life. We’re hoping he’s one of those guys like Oliver Ekman-Larsson that come along later and gain all their weight.”
Indeed, as it stands now, Pettersson comes in at a skeletal 6-foot-4, 167 pounds. Despite that, he was a great shutdown player for Sweden at the world under-18s and rang up 10 games of service in the Swedish League with Skelleftea, playing the rest of the season with the club’s under-20 squad. Along with the mobility, Pettersson also has some edge to his game and can contribute at the offensive end. His contract with Skelleftea runs another three years, but luckily that club has been a factory for defensemen in recent years.
“It’s been a great experience up there,” Pettersson said. “With David Rundblad, Adam Larsson and Tim Erixon, watching those guys growing up and playing well has been great motivation.”
And the group results aren’t bad, either. Skelleftea has won the championship two years in a row and lost in the final the season before that. Young players pepper the lineup and Pettersson sees no reason why he would leave the Northeastern squad early, unless it was for the NHL. “We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I want to develop and be ready before I go over and I’m in a great spot to develop.”
Murray is fully on board with that plan and now it’s just a matter of Pettersson packing some meat on his bones and continuing to thrive as a puckmoving blueliner. Spending his childhood as a center obviously means Pettersson knows his way around the puck, but when a coach asked him to try defense a couple years back, he gave it a shot and found an even better fit. He quickly rose up the draft charts during this past season and earned a spot at the NHL draft combine, where his work-in-progress physique was on display.
“My strength isn’t my best part, but it’s a good thing to work on,” Pettersson said. “I felt confident there.”
The potential is certainly there for the youngster and with Anaheim already finding a gem in fellow young Swede Hampus Lindholm, the Ducks are going to be swimming in talented blueliners in a few years – and they’re already in pretty good shape to begin with.