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Marcus Pettersson: 2014 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Devils are already chock-full of high-ceiling defensive prospects. However there is a defender who has been picking up steam recently in scouting circles that the Devils would be uniquely suited to take a shot on. He is a high-risk, high-reward defender from Sweden who has raw talent, but he wouldn’t be rushed in on an already crowded New Jersey blueline anyway so he might just be a perfect fit. Today we look at Marcus Pettersson.

Who is Marcus Pettersson?

Marcus Pettersson is the son of Daniel Pettersson, both of whom played for the Skelleftea SHL team. Marcus Pettersson is a prototypical height for a defender at 6'3'' but really ... really needs to tack on some weight. At 160 lbs, he would be the lightest defender in the league and the lightest player in the league (>200 TOI) other than Paul Byron of the Flames who is a full 8 inches shorter at 5'7''.

Despite the fact that Steven Gionta has 25 lbs on the guy, he still flashes clear offensive prowess which isn't surprising since he is a converted center. Considering he is a defender, you'll need to delve a little deeper for what is so special about him but there are a few things that one can pull out of his stat summary:

The first stat entry is from the TV-Pucken tournament for high schoolers where Pettersson led his team i ndefender points and goals. This helped him to become captain for the same team the following year. Under his leadership and his 9 points in 8 games, the team won the championshipin 2011-2012.

Fast forward to 2012-2013 where the J18 level of Skelleftea made the playoffs and he put up a point-per-game production once again. The next year he started tearing up the stat sheet similarly at the J20 level as an assistant captain before finally getting the call up to the SHL for 10 games. He also played with Adrian Kempe on the Swedish national team where he was a top 2 defenseman playing alongside another top prospect.

What are experts saying?

Hockey's Future describes Pettersson's talent as raw, but compelling.

Pettersson has the prototypical height and frame to be an NHL defenseman. Mobile for his size, he plays a sound positional game and is a skilled passer. Not overly combative nor assertive; he is still developing physically...

The "still developing physically" is the important part here to me. He is a work-in-progress as far as getting his potential-laden frame into an NHL-ready form.

Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News substantiates that potential:

One scout said Pettersson has the most upside of any European in the draft. A big kid who covers a lot of ground, Pettersson has an edge to his game and can move the puck pretty decently.

We will see a little of this flash in the video section. The fact that he has the most upside of anyone in the draft has led to him climbing the boards recently. Formerly a second rounder, he is squarely within the possibility to be picked within the first round now.

The guys at The Hockey Writers also do a good job of consolidating information and they quoted the NHL's Director of European Scouting as saying:

He is used in all game situations and has grown up to become a leader on the team. He’s tall and uses a long stick and has a very good reach. He’s difficult to pass against and his passing game is very good.

So to sum up, this kid has absurd amounts of raw potential, he is a leader, and a former center with flies around the ice with innate offensive instincts. The con is that he has a lot of work to do defensively and physically before he can compete with the big boys of the NHL.

Some Video

There's not a whole lot of video on him considering defenders don't provide much highlight-worth film. But, this snippet shows a glimpse of his shot, passing, and most evidently, his speed. He goes all over the ice and on the powerplay he can go coast to coast and gain the zone like recently re-signed Zidlicky does for us.

An Opinion of Sorts

Now we do have a bit of a logjam at the blue line at the moment, but if we want to grab a scoring winger and we can't get any of the scoring wingers available and need to resort to trading, our defenders are the ones hat we would have to put on the block. We do have our young defenders but Salvador and Zidlicky are ancient so picking up a project defender with massive upside may actually fit very well.

One thing that I got from looking at the SHL Skelleftea site was that apperently the word "end" in Swedish is "slut." But one useful bit of information i got is that his time one ice decreased as the season went on. He tried to play with the big boys and played about 7 minutes a game and scored no points. He clearly has a long way to go.

The NHL had their draft combine and Pettersson absolutely lit it up there. He finished top 10 in 7 different categories including 4th in wingspan, and 1st and 9th in the single-leg squats. His potential jumps out at you so much it's impossible to ignore. I love his leadership at every level he's played in and his apparent affinity for performance in the postseason and tournaments. Now I wouldn't love it if the Devils went with a defender this early, but if we do then this kid is a perfect candidate for us. We have the stability to be able to take a risk at the position.

What Do You Think?

Do you not want a defender? Do you think he is too raw to develop? If we get a defender would this guy make sense? Please leave comments for the new writer (me) to learn from.