The Sedins are retiring, meaning this is now Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat’s team. The baton has been passed from two franchise legends to two promising youngsters who have had excellent starts to their NHL careers. That much is known already, but there are some players sort of stuck in limbo right now.
One of those guys is Sven Baertschi. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and his long-term future with the origination is up in the air.
After being drafted with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Calgary Flames, Baertschi went on to put up a couple of ridiculous seasons in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. There was a point where it seemed he was the steal of the draft, but he was never able to find his footing in Calgary. In 2015, the Flames decided to move on, shipping Baertschi to the Canucks for a second-round pick they ended up using on Rasmus Andersson.
In three seasons since joining the Canucks, Baertschi has been a solid, middle-six contributor. He’s scored 49 goals and 94 points in 193 games with the Canucks, good for a very respectable 0.49 points-per-game average in all situations. The biggest issue for Baertschi, though, has been staying healthy. His last three seasons have all been partially derailed due to injury. He played 69 and 68 games in 2015-16 and 2016-17, then, this season, he was only able to make it into 53 games.
At 25 years of age, the Canucks have two more seasons of control over Baertschi before he’s eligible to hit the open market. He’s coming off of a two-year deal in which he had a cap hit of $1,850,000. His salary in 2017-18 was $2,000,000, meaning, if the Canucks qualify him, he’ll be eligible for a 10 per cent raise up to $2,200,000 next season.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Where does Baertschi fit with the Canucks? Is he somebody who’s going to be around with the team when they’re ready to compete? Has he done anything to prove he’s worth more than a one- or two-year contract? Is he better off being used as a trade chip?
Based on Jim Benning’s words, it seems Baertschi will be given another chance to prove he’s worth keeping around long-term, much like Erik Gudbranson was when he was given a one-year extension.
“That’s the point they’re at in their careers,” said Jim Benning in an interview with Ben Kuzma in regards to Baertschi and fellow RFA Markus Granlund. “They’re either going to take the next step and be good NHL players that can produce, or they’ll fall by the wayside. It was a difficult year for both of them and maybe it was adjusting to the style of play that Travis (Green) wanted. They have a lot to prove and I expect them to rebound from where they were at.”
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