Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Where Does Sven Baertschi Fit In The Canucks’ Long-Term Plans?

An unfortunate concussion—and a recent bout of illness—have combined to keep Sven Baertschi out of the Vancouver Canucks lineup for the majority of the 2018/19 season. In his absence, several other players have stepped into top-six roles—with varied results—and that’s raised the important question of Baertschi’s role with the team in the long term. Below, we’ll try our best to answer that question.

What Role Does Sven Baertschi Play Right Now?

Sven Baertschi 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Games Played 69 68 53 22
Goals 15 18 14 8
Assists 13 17 15 5
Points 28 35 29 13
Points-Per-Game 0.41 0.51 0.55 0.59
PPG Ranking Among NHL Forwards (20+ Games Played) 202nd 155th 145th 125th

Throughout his time in Vancouver, Sven Baertschi has consistently performed as a top-six forward—albeit one on the low end of the production scale.

As of right now, there are 31 teams in the NHL, which means that—rather unscientifically speaking—there are about 93 top line forwards out there and 186 top-six forwards. His injury history aside—for now—Baertschi’s point-per-game totals put him well within the bounds of top-six production in all but his first season with the Canucks.

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That being said, Baertschi has never approached first line production, and he probably never will. At this exact moment in time, Baertschi is playing like a second-line left winger, which is exactly where he sits on the Canucks’ current roster. But how long will that be the case?

How Long Can He Keep That Up?

Previously on CanucksArmy, a former contributor crunched the numbers when it came to NHL development curves and found that forwards typically peak—in terms of both overall production and advanced analytics like WAR—at around age 24, with their “primes” extending from age 22 to 26. Other predictive models have turned up similar age ranges.

Last year, the main man Ryan Biech put all that together in a graph depicting when each Canuck forward could be expected to hit their peaks and prime, and the results certainly seem to jive with the “eye test” thus far.

What does this mean for Sven Baertschi?

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If these models are to be believed, Baertschi should be reaching the end of his prime in the current 2018/19 season, and after this year his numbers should be expected to decline. Now, it must be noted that these statistical models are far from perfect and there are exceptions to every rule—just look at Alex Ovechkin, whose production plummeted during his supposed prime years then skyrocketed when he hit his 30s—and it is not guaranteed that Baertschi’s numbers will immediately decline.

Still, it seems fair to conclude that Baertschi is rapidly approaching the end of his period of maximum effectiveness as an NHL forward. It’s also fair to conclude that he’s probably past the point of any dramatic uptick in his scoring totals. In 2018/19, Baertschi is what he is.

A further complicating factor is Baertschi’s injury history—his current brush with illness aside. In his time with the Vancouver organization, Baertschi has missed an average of 21.5 games per season—which represents more than a quarter of the regular schedule. That’s a significant amount of wear-and-tear, and it could lead to Baertschi declining a bit quicker than the average NHL forward. Or maybe not. These things are impossible to predict.

In The Context Of The Rest Of The Team

As of the 2018/19 season, the Vancouver organization isn’t exactly swimming in productive left wingers. Nikolay Goldobin has seen a surge in his scoring totals as a 23-year-old—which is again consistent with the above chart—but beyond him the options are few and far between. Jonathan Dahlen is having a solid, if unspectacular, rookie season with the Utica Comets, but he’s probably a year or more away at this point. Jonah Gadjovich and Petrus Palmu are even further away.

That means that Baertschi’s spot on the roster is safe for now, but that could also change within a season or two. If Goldobin permanently establishes himself in the top-six and Dahlen progresses quickly, the Canucks would be foolish not to make space for them at the expense of an aging Baertschi. Whereas Baertschi is exiting his prime, Goldobin is just entering his—and Dahlen is just 21 years old

There’s also a great possibility that the Canucks acquire a more productive left winger—perhaps one capable of keeping up with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser on the top line—in the near future. While the right side of the defense represents the greatest organizational need at this moment in time, the left wing is definitely next on the list—and one has to imagine that Jim Benning already has his eye out for potential acquisitions, whether they be through the draft, trade, or free agency.

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Even the most optimistic of Canuck fans don’t really expect the team to be competing for the Stanley Cup any earlier than 2020/21. Baertschi could still feasibly be a solid second-line option for the Canucks in that season, but it would probably be preferable for them to find a stronger candidate in the meantime—if they truly want to transform into a contender, that is.

The Contract Factor

Sven Baertschi is currently in the first year of a three-year contract extension that carries an annual cap hit of $3.37 million. Given the comparables for Baertschi’s contract available on CapFriendly, it’s fair to say that the Canucks received a bit of a bargain when they re-signed him—at least, based on his current level of production.

Baertschi’s contract runs out after the 2020/21 season, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at that point—and presumably ready to cash in on a larger deal. Unfortunately, that’s also the time period in which Baertschi’s production rate will almost certainly be going downhill.

This reads as a situation in which the Canucks could easily find themselves paying for past performance and locking themselves into a regrettable long-term contract. In other words, if the team hangs on to Baertschi until 2021, they should probably expect to cut ties with him at that point—unless he signs for a major discount—lest they end up with another cap-complicating deal.

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In the short term, Sven Baertschi has a role with the Vancouver Canucks—and there’s no heir apparent to his position as a top-six left winger. In the long term, however, the situation will almost certainly change. To put it bluntly, if the Canucks are still relying on Baertschi as a top-six forward when his contract comes to an end in 2021, it will probably mean that the team isn’t quite as strong a contender as most fans hoped—and so the search should already be on for a replacement.

    • I find that sentences generally make more sense if you quote them in their entirety. Compared to Goldobin and Dahlen, Baertschi is older–and his prime does not overlap with that of the rest of the core.

      On my last article, you claimed that my list of RHD contained “half” LHD, which was not true, and when called out on that you did not reply. I seriously question your intentions here.

      • East van canuck

        Well spotted Stephan. This place is littered with poor posters like this guy (Puck Viking, Killer Marmot, crofton, Locust, Bud Poile, DJ_44, are some others) who troll, whine and criticize then clam up when you hold them to account. My advice is to not rise to the bait. Jackson never engages with these clowns anymore. Now you know why. Good article as always btw.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Ok, heres your full sentence. “If Goldobin permanently establishes himself in the top-six and Dahlen progresses quickly, the Canucks would be foolish not to make space for them at the expense of an aging Baertschi.” “If”. “And”. You were speculating, and advising the Canucks to move on a 26 year old top 6 player, based on that speculation. So, what seriously do you think my intentions are? And for the record, I will admit that I was wrong in the previous post.

  • Hockey Bunker

    May I politely suggest that any “statistical model” which says an NHL player peaks at 24 needs some refining. It’s a polite way of saying it’s crap. Those who quote that look stupid. NHL players peak at different ages for different reasons but peak production is usually 28-31. If you are suggesting dump/trade a player at 24 may I give you exhibit A, Marcus Naslund. After age 24 Marcus never fell back to his age 24 production. 11 years. He peaked around 30. Even Todd Burtuzzi peaked at 27 and was still pretty good to 30.
    So please stop this 24 nonsense, it makes you look like a buffoon.

    • Doodly Doot

      Henrik Sedin put up his best years from age 26-32 with 30 and 31 being his ‘actual’ peak years. Alex Burrows just got going at 26 and had his four best years AFTER that.

      Thanks Hockey Bunker for offering some common sense as an antidote to Stephan Roget’s goofball hypothesis. Baertschi’s PPG has increased year-over-year since 2015. So, maybe he’s still getting better? It’s quite plausible that he’s in his peak years just as the team is emerging as a contender.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Different era and game. Slow and average isnt getting players anything except a one way ticket to Europe/KHL by their late 20s now.

      Furthermore, players getting paid up the bum on their 2nd contracts the past few yrs should tell you the writing is on the wall in terms of when peak production is expected. The Tavares, Price, Doughty, Karlsson(this summer) contracts will all be massive albatross’ in only a few yrs due to their ages. Good luck and good riddance with all that cap hell!

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Btw, Gordie Howe ‘peaked’ in his age 39-40 season, so just cause you have the ability to throw out some players go bucked the trend, doesn’t in any way discredit the model as per the Mr. Hockey example.

      • Doodly Doot

        You’re suggesting that each player is a own unique case and that this statistical approach doesn’t mean much regarding individual players? I agree! Nice work proving my point.

        The source data is making a sweeping generalization, especially when you consider that players with as little as two consecutive years were included (2008-2016). Suggesting that the Canucks won’t be contenders in a few years if Baertschi is still on the team is dumb. I’m always for an upgrade at any position if it’s a value proposition, but Baer is a very good top six winger who, when healthy, is a benefit to the team.

    • Stats don’t show how Baertschi has shifted his play from being a perimeter player to being a power forward that isn’t afraid to score from the front of the crease. You don’t see that kind of jam from Goldobin even though they are the same height/weight. I think Baertschi really figured out how to succeed and is only going to get better over the next few seasons.
      Stephan, watch the games!

    • Big D, little d

      Don’t blame the models.

      Any player that has a 15 – 20 year career obviously isn’t going to have his peak years at 22- 26. Nobody keeps a player around for 10+ years of declining production. But the average career for an NHL hockey player is four years. So yeah, if you start playing NHL games at 22, and end at 26, it’s pretty obvious what your peak years were.

      When was Jayson Megna’s peak year? Or Michael Chaput? Their careers count just as much in a statistical model as Naslund’s or Sedin’s. And there are a LOT more players with short careers than long ones. So when you take the average over ALL players, not just the good ones, the average age at peak production is going to be lower than you might expect.

      Takeaway – the numbers aren’t wrong, you just have to know what the numbers are telling you.

    • That’s not how statistical models work. There are always outliers and exceptions, but statistical models outline what is most likely to occur. Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi were obviously exceptions–as was Alex Ovechkin, as I mentioned in the article–but the vast majority of players match with this model. Otherwise, the model would say something different. Again, that’s how statistical models work.

      • jaybird43

        If you dig deeper though, there’s a lot more than forwards peaking at age 24-25. That number is distorted downwards by the real high end guys, if you consider that, then a slightly more nuanced picture emerged wherein many guys are quite productive until about 28. After that, for the most part, production begins falling off a cliff for all except (mostly) the elite players.

        Teams should be very cautious at signing deals for forwards that go a long ways after 28, unless they are, first and foremost, elite skaters. Either fast, or tricky, or both. Tavares contract, for instance (and due to John’s skating) will be a huge albatross for Toronto starting in about 3 years.

  • truthseeker

    I’m not sure which stat I think is more useless….corsi for judging team success or these “age curve” graphs for judging players.

    First off…if we just judge it purely based on the chart itself, the importance of the “prime years” seems to be consistently overstated by the writers of this site.

    The drop in production, from “peak” age of 22 to 26 into ages 27, and 28 is barely anything and at 29 is slightly worse but still positive. Even 30 is positive.

    Secondly, it completely ignores all the human factors which are almost as important as the age curve itself especially in smaller regions of the chart.

    I appreciate the mention of Ovechkin as an example of that but it still, to me, comes across as downplaying the impact of the human factor.

    At best the age curve is a decent guide to understanding it’s better to have younger players than older ones, but I think it pretty much falls apart completely applied to judging an individual player and what they “might become”.

    So if we bring this back to Sven, the first point judged just on the chart shows that he really has about 4 more solid years of production for the canucks, which is a significant length of time.

    But more important is the human factor in his case. Having a longer slower road into the NHL as a top 6 regular has meant that his production has gradually gone up as he’s learned the game. The citing of other examples (Sedins, Burrows etc) is appropriate here. It is quite reasonable to expect his scoring to actually increase even more as he continues to be more comfortable as a top 6 player.

    It was mentioned that those are “outliers”. Yes, they are, but on this issue the examples of “outliers” that fit are everywhere in the NHL. It’s a very common occurrence for players to buck that age curve graph. Which is why it’s pretty much useless as a tool for judging individual players.

    Basically that chart is Macro, trying to be applied to the Micro. Doesn’t work.

    • It’s not a very common occurrence for players to buck that age curve graph. If it was, the graph would look different. It happens, and it’s not exactly rare, but it’s far from common. The most common occurrence is that a player’s development curve matches this graph. That’s why the graph looks like it does.

      It’s also not really all that reasonable to expect Baertschi’s scoring to increase even more. It’s possible, sure, but there’s no real reason to believe it will happen, and it’d be unwise to bet any money on it.

      • truthseeker

        Right. It’s not exactly rare. Not rare at all. Which is why sometimes a micro analysis approach may be a better one than just applying the age graph. Sven has the potential to be one of those given his rocky path to NHL regular.

        Once again I have to point out that the scale of the drop off is relatively small from age 26 to 30. The way it’s been argued here and many other times on this site makes it sound like after 26 years old we’re looking at players as if they were in that 33 or 34 year old category. That may not have been your intent when you wrote the article but this “theme” has been done numerous times here where the writers make it seem like players are almost useless after 26.

        I also decided to dig a little deeper on the GAR stat that makes up the Y axis in those charts and from what I’ve read it sounds like it might not be the best stat to measure the productive value of players.


        “What are the weaknesses of GAR?

        While I think the stat is tremendously useful, there are a few things you have to keep in mind when using it. For one, GAR values are estimates – because it uses regression techniques in some places, there is inherent uncertainty in the values output by the system. Those error bars are hidden from view – we don’t really get to see them, and as a result, you have to be careful not to make conclusions based on GAR values that are relatively close to one another. ”

        Seems to me that last sentence is a key one given that the values from 25 to 30 appear to me to be “close to one another”.

        As for Sven, well…I probably wouldn’t bet on it either, but keep this in mind; his scoring pace this year is the highest of his career so far, at 26 years old, with roughly the same amount of ice time since he arrived in Van. So he’s already bucking the trend of that age chart.

  • Bud Poile

    Sven has either suffered his sixth concussion or has relapsed from his fifth into a state where he cannot play hockey.
    Yet,your argument is statistical comparisons whereas Sven will be very lucky if he has not retired in two years.
    The Canucks mgmt. will not be able to count on Sven going forward.Period.

  • TheRealPB

    I think Baertschi has been a solid if unspectacular part of the Canucks’ lineup. The injuries have made it hard to have much more of an impact; every time he seems to get going he gets hurt again. His play is so much better than when he first arrived that it seems worth it when he can plug into the lineup. I doubt that he gets resigned at the end of this deal though. I always thought the trade was a bit of a wash but at this point I think the Flames will come out on the better end — Andersson is a really solid d with upside as a top four. I’d rather have him than certainly either of our bottom pairing.

    • DJ_44

      The Canucks won the trade. He has been productive with the Canucks. As for your comments regarding Andersson, he is solid, however the Canucks have depth at LHD, including (immediately) McEneny, Briesbois, Sautner, and then Juolevi and Hughes, with Rathbone farther out.

      • TheRealPB

        Rasmus Andersson is a 22-year-old 6 foot 215 lb defensemen who’s already played 60 games in the NHL (including 50 this year) and put up excellent offensive numbers in the AHL as a 20 and 21 year old. Sautner is 25 and McEneny is 24 and have 6 total NHL games between them. Brisebois is 21 and has no games actually on the ice. Juolevi and Hughes are prospects.

        Put it another way — would you today rather have Andersson or Pouliot/Gudbranson/Biega? Given the number of games that Baertschi has missed and the mixed impact he’s had on our team over his five seasons here, I think I’d probably take the young solid D over the solid but injury-prone vet. I really like Baertschi but I think it’s hard to really say that we won the trade.

        • DJ_44

          Put it another way — would you today rather have Andersson or Pouliot/Gudbranson/Biega?

          That’s not the question. It is would you rather have had Baertschi and his production for 3.5 seasons and (insert Van d-man) or Andersson.

          I will grant you that “won” is not necessarily how to look at it; it has benefited both teams.

          • But you can’t stop evaluating Baertschi vs. 2nd/Andersson now. If Baertschi continues to play well until the end of his contract (and there is no reason why that can’t happen), that means Benning converted a 2nd round pick into Top 6 scoring LW (when healthy) with an AAV that was less than $4M for 6 seasons. That doesn’t count any assets we could recover by renting him out if he chooses to go the UFA route.

            While Andersson has been quite spectacular in the AHL, he still hasn’t proven himself to be a Top 4 NHL defenceman yet. His TOI and point production are bottom pairing and his Corsi/Fenwick are pretty bad (45-46%).

            As for the performance of the team over the last few years, no doubt it was terrible but I look at the context and processes too. Baertschi for a 2nd round pick is clearly a win in retrospect so Benning shouldn’t take any flack for it.

          • I just crunched some numbers in a later post, can I propose a different question?

            Would you rather have a Top 6 scoring LW who will miss about 25% of the season every year or a potential Top 4 D who will make his debut as a bottom pairing D in 3 years?

            In Baertschi, you roll the dice to get potential Top 6 scoring now only limited by his health. With Andersson, you’ll likely get a potential Top 4 defender but only after about 4-5 years of development.

          • TheRealPB

            But that is the question. What does Baertschi’s production for 3 seasons in which the Canucks were the worst team in the league really mean? I mean you could argue that we might have been even worse and gotten a better shot at #1s…the question really is would you trade those 3.5 seasons of decent production that got you nowhere for having a solid young defenseman in his early 20s? And yes, as someone pointed out, there’s no guarantee that the Canucks would have taken him. But we do evaluate trades after the fact, which is why Granlund for Shinkaruk is still a clear win for us.

        • KGR

          That is not the question. Perhaps both teams “won” the trade. Baertschi was traded for a second round pick. Who the flames drafted was their choice and have apparently done well with Andersson. There is the likely hood that the Canucks would have chosen someone different. Baertschi’s value has been well beyond the value of the average second round pick. Cheers

      • tyhee

        That’s a little like going back exactly 5 years in time and saying that on February 6, 2014 the Canucks were set for years on left defence with Yann Sauve, Peter Andersson, Patrick McNally, Ben Hutton, Gustav Forsling and Anton Cederholm.

    • I think both teams did well in this trade. Andersson has developed quite well, but the Canucks got a lot of good years out of Baertschi. Does Horvat develop as well as he has without Baertschi on his line? I’m not sure.

  • Bud Poile

    I know it is very early on here but the man has suffered five known concussions and his health is in serious question as a result.
    Personally,I feel his playing career will be ultimately defined by these concerns.

  • Keep playing Baertschi in the Top 6 and hope he stays healthy. As a pending UFA, trade him at the 2021 trade deadline for a draft picks and prospects unless he resigns on team-friendly terms. Replace Baertschi with current prospects (e.g. Dahlen, Virtanen, Lind, etc.). Now that we have a prospect pipeline that starting to work, we should be able to recycle our complimentary players at the trade deadline or off-season.

  • North Van Halen

    Until Baer can string 40 games in a row together, it’s hard to tell what his value is to the franchise. As the saying goes part of your value is showing up. Sven looks like a legit 2nd line winger who’s value may just be in what we can flip him for in a year or two or he could be a major contributor to secondary scoring. Both options are equally viable but it depends on his health. This latest setback resets his value to almost nothing, can’t play him, can’t trade him and there’s no hint as to when that might change.
    Saying the Canucks should be looking to replace him based on whether he can contribute in 2 years is much more reliant on his value to the franchise vs. his value to trade and who’s ready to replace him than how old he is. If he keeps playing 40 – 60 games a year Vancouver will have to move on and take what they can get for him, which likely won’t be much. If Sven can come back strong to end the year, play the first 40 games or so next years, then we can get a read on whether he’s part of the solution moving forward, or if there’s a viable replacement coming, a major trade chip.
    Right now his value is much too muddled by his inability to stay in the line-up to evaluate.

  • TD

    Most teams are trying to run 3 offensive lines and a shut down line. The Canucks have a hard time fielding 2 scoring lines these days (Schaller on Horvat’s line last night) let alone 3. Baertschi fits on the second line with Horvat now and can hopefully move down to a third line when better players are available. He would then be an option to move up a line to cover for injuries.

    I am not against trading Baer, but I doubt the return would make the trade worthwhile with his recent injury history and they have very few other options right now.

    • That’s a fair point. However, I will note that team’s that run three offensive lines still need penalty killers and checkers on at least one of those lines. Baertschi doesn’t really have that in his game at this point.

      • argoleas

        I could see Horvat moving back into some PK minutes in the next few years, and maybe try Virtanen too. Roussel and Beagle look to be here for a while, so that could be your PK core. Maybe Gaud too as he matures more into a 2-way forward that can take a share of those tougher matchup minutes with Horvat and Beagle. So, if the new wingers from Utica like MacEwen, Dahlen, Lind, etc., can come in in the next 1-3 years, and provide the scoring touch for 3 scoring lines, that’s how the PK and matchups could work.

        This is all stated in the context of Sutter, Granlund, and Eriksson moving on very soon.

  • Robson Street

    Baertschi is… fine. One of the few good problems to have in that he’s pretty effective while on a reasonable contract. I guess I’d wonder how he’d look on a third line with Gaudette.

    The data suggests we might already have two reasonably effective top six lines this year and they probably aren’t what you’re thinking: 1. Eriksson (!) Horvat Roussell 2. Leivo (!) Pettersson Boeser. (Check out Sean Tierney’s viz work for more on this)

    I could also see trying Virtanen at LW on either line (this is not without precedent – he played left in Junior and Harman Dayal and others have discussed this). If so, this would make left wing even more crowded. In summary, who knows. I don’t see space for both Goldobin and Baertschi and I’m inclined to believe Sven might hold more value around the league in trade.

  • To say that having Baertschi in our Top 6 by the time his contract ends is a bad thing is a little harsh. I just crunched the numbers for NHL left wingers from last year based on the position and points produced by NHL.com. Looking at each team, playoff status and 1st and 2nd LW, here’s what I see in terms of average point production:

    Playoff Teams (Top 6 LW): 45.75 pts
    1st – 59.00 pts
    2nd – 32.50 pts

    Lottery Teams (Top 6 LW): 43.37 pts
    1st – 54.87 pts
    2nd – 31.87 pts

    On average, there is no significant difference between left wingers on playoff and lottery teams. Top 6 LW average about 44 points, with 1st liners averaging about 55 points and 2nd liners averaging 31 points. Baertschi, to my surprise, has historically exceeded the average PPG for 2nd line LW (~0.37 PPG whereas Baertschi’s career average is 0.48 PPG). Unless his production drops off a cliff at age 28, Baertschi should be fine as one of our Top 6 wingers by the end of his contract.

      • I crunched the numbers again for teams that had 100+ points in the regular season (11 teams), adding min and max values:

        Min / Average / Max
        1: 37 / 61.91 / 87
        2: 7 / 34.82 / 57

        The average between the top teams and the overall average wasn’t that much:

        Top 11 / Playoff / Lottery:
        1: 62 pts / 59 pts / 55 pts
        2: 35 pts / 33 pts / 32 pts

        Based on the averages, Baertschi would still be an above-average 2LW. Even during his worst “full” season, he put up a PPG rate that was 2LW.

        • KGR

          Thanks for the info Forever 1915. This type of exchange is why I still enjoy this site. I appreciate the article Stephan; but when it is set up as it is, it allows for a lot of people to go but, but , but. There is a larger narrative that should be woven into the story, and less of the absolute. The conclusions made are not always defendable. Again, I do appreciate the article and believe it is better than many that get published for money. Cheers Ian

  • Hockey Bunker

    The model is historic based on data of all players. It becomes problematic when some claim it is predictive and then apply it to an individual player as a basis for signing, trading, or letting him go. Mats Sundin “peaked” at age 22. He was traded around age 23. And he played at a point per game level year after year after year. So were the Nordiques right to trade him after his “peak”. I think not.

    • You’re making two mistakes here, Bunker. One, you keep pointing out exceptional cases. Of course they exist. But the fact of the matter is that most NHL players are not Mats Sundin, or Markus Naslund, or even Todd Bertuzzi. Sven Baertschi certainly isn’t. The odds are stacked against him.

      Two, I’m not suggesting that the Canucks cut Sven Baertschi loose right now based on this predictive model. I’m not suggesting they cut him loose at all. The entire basis of the article is trying to predict what’s going to happen in future seasons. I’m saying that his numbers are likely to begin declining soon, and that this will likely lead the team to look for a replacement. The key word here is “likely.” It’s a prognostication, and predictive models simply provide the best basis for making such projections.

      • truthseeker

        But that’s the point. The examples of players bucking the trend of that age curve chart are everywhere. It’s not a rare occurrence. Which is why that chart is almost useless when applied to an individual player. Especially those like Sven, who have slower roads into top line roles.

        • See my response to you below. There are more than 1000 players currently on NHL contracts. Even if you find dozens of outliers over decades worth of hockey, do you realize how small of a drop in the statistical bucket that represents?

          The chart is not useless at all. It’s predictive, and like all predictive models it is fallible and unable to predict the future with 100% accuracy. But it is certainly better at predicting the future than anecdotal ideals like “slower roads into top line roles.”

          Also, Baertchi started getting top-six minutes when he was 23 years old. That’s…not really a slow road. That’s right around average.

          • Big D, little d

            The NHL.com stats page lists 4754 players who have played forward in the NHL. The median number of games played – 113. The aging curve for a “typical” NHL forward will reflect the fact that we expect that player to only play 113 games.

            Sven Baertschi has already played 281 games. He is already in the 65th percentile for career length. We can conclude that Sven is unlikely to have an aging curve that resembles the “typical” NHL player. Predicting his career trajectory based on averages across all players is sub-optimal. It would be better to utilize the information we already have available to improve the accuracy of our prediction.

      • Hockey Bunker

        Great discussion Stephan. Thank you for engaging. If we accept your hypothesis that the model is predictive and not just historical and if we are to accept that there are outliers, then it is Management’s job to determine which players will be outliers. Is Baer one? Is Petey or Bo? In fact if you could identify through refinements in the model who will be a Marcus Naslund when he clearly looked anything but a star at his “theoretical peak” age then you can write your own ticket. Those players would be freely given up by teams as Nazzy was. You’d be worth millions to any team. That would be a project worth spending time and money on. I’m being serious, that is the next logical step, creating a model which will identify the “outliers”. Otherwise the base model has no value. The stock market goes up and down but the real money is made identifying outliers. Yet the smartest money and stats and modelling people in the world rarely beat the market.
        Good luck I hope you or someone at CA can crack the code. You’re smart guys!!

  • Holly Wood

    The current trend of younger player with speed is tied into the removal of the red line and of course the salary cap. The removal of the red line was the kiss goodbye for the 30 year vet

  • Defenceman Factory

    I really don’t understand the angst people are having with this article. The Canucks have one top line winger and 2 or 3 average to mediocre 2nd line wingers. To be a contender their top 6 wingers as a group need to be well above average. If Baertschi is still your 2nd or 3rd best winger at the end of his contract this team will not be close to contending.

    What makes this situation a bit more concerning is there is no one in the prospect pool who is a sure fire top 6 winger. A couple guys might get there and at the very least there will definitely be a couple very good bottom 6 wingers. So all that said the Canucks have a surplus of middling wingers which includes Baertschi. Trading him, Goldobin or Leivo for a 2nd rd pick is certainly worth considering. There are numerous better wingers available as UFAs each year. Adding a 2nd rd pick to a Sutter trade next summer or deadline could help increase the quality of a young Dman coming back.

    Why would folks be critical with the author for simply stating the results of a statistical model. Expecting a player to improve after age 26 is wishful thinking. Expecting player performance to not be declining in their late 20’s is also wishful thinking. The author was very deliberate to say the model is just averages with lots of exceptions. Statistically it probably won’t make sense for the Canucks to give Baertschi his next contract. If the team has upgraded Goldobin and Leivo by then and Baertschi is defying the odds maybe keeping him will make sense. We should all hope the Canucks have better wingers by then.

  • Ronning4ever

    “That being said, Baertschi has never approached first line production, and he probably never will. At this exact moment in time, Baertschi is playing like a second-line left winger, which is exactly where he sits on the Canucks’ current roster.”

    Left Wing P/pg (min 20 games): Baertschi ranks 32nd league wide and has been in the 25 – 30 range for most of his season. He’s scoring as a lower-end 1st line winger right now and has been for most of the season.

    On the current roster, Baertschi is the top left winger in terms of TOI per game and 5th on the team. He’s being used as their 1st line left winger and scoring at that pace to boot….when healthy.

  • Bud Poile

    I will repost this again on the day the inevitable happens:

    Sven’s first reported concussion came at the World Juniors in 2011.
    Sven has beaten the odds by remaining active in the NHL three + years beyond the 85% of NHL’ers that retire within five years after their first reported concussion.

    Journal of Neurotrauma NHL concussion study

    The study was published March 8,2018 in The Journal of Neurotrauma and its lead authors are Prem Ramkumar, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, and Sergio Navarro, a graduate medical student at Baylor University in Houston.
    The peer-reviewed study examined 2,194 players who played in the NHL from the 2008-09 season through 2016-17 and concluded 198, or 64.1 per cent, of the 309 players who had been through the NHL’s concussion protocol in a game during that time frame did not play in the NHL three full seasons after their injury.
    Two hundred and sixty-four, or 85 per cent of players, did not play in the NHL five full seasons after their trauma.


    • KGR

      Sobering numbers Bud. Wish Sven the best; but have the same feelings i had when Dorsett was sent home while on a road trip last year. If his current issues are related to concussions, then retirement will have to be considered. Cheers