The kid they called The Norwegian Gretzky is now a member of the Calgary Flames.
Emilio Pettersen, a 20-year-old standout player at the University of Denver, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames on Monday, just a decade after he became a YouTube sensation.
Shown in several videos showing a stride, hands and a sense of hockey that belied his tender age of 10, Pettersen left Norway for the United States at the age of 13 to run on a day like this.
“I’m so excited about this new opportunity,” said the Flames’ sixth round pick in 2018, whose father, Flemming, was a professional hockey player in Norway. “When I came here (to Denver), I wanted to stay four years, but that didn’t happen. “
Instead, at his request, the Flames decided to accelerate his progression to professional hockey by agreeing that he was better served from the American Hockey League next year than returning to college.
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Another factor in the change of plans may have something to do with the likelihood that professional hockey will have a better chance of coming back to action next fall than college hockey, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has already cost him a golden opportunity because he had to play for Norway at the men’s world championships this spring before the event was canceled.
“They told me that I will play Stockton next year, but I am ready to make a good impression,” said Pettersen, a confident and trained winger who has been under the Norwegian hockey microscope since the age of six. .
“Since the end of the season, it’s been pretty simple – they wanted me to sign and I wanted to sign. They thought I would develop better to the next level. “
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Flame manager Brad Treliving said the plan, until the past week, was that the five-foot, 175-inch, 175-pound playmaker will continue at highly regarded college next season. However, with more and more discussions with the player, scouts and management, it was determined that he deserved to be accelerated.
“He’s an ultra-serious and determined kid with high-end skills,” said Treliving, who said staff have watched almost all of his games this year.
“It was a YouTube sensation when he was little – they called him the Norwegian Gretzky. Our plan was probably to always come back another year and when I spoke to him at the end of the year, that was what he wanted to do. He has a straight head and I have no qualms about doing the job he should do. “
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This job is to get stronger, so that he can better prepare for a more robust ride among the pros.
“He’s relentless in terms of work ethic and determination,” said Treliving, who remembers seeing the videos that caught his eye as a youngster.
“His biggest thing he will have to work on is his defense – it will be an area of growth for him. He has great vision, he can lead a line, but one area he needs to improve is his game away from the puck. “
With the puck, he continues to shine, as he did when he was a kid, leading all DU scorers this year with 13 goals and 35 points in 36 games.
The Oslo native left-handed has been named to the NCHC All-Conference academic team, as well as to the NCHC’s second All-Star team.