Vancouver Canucks 2015/16 Season Preview: X-Factor #3 Sven Baertschi


Going into the 2015-16 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks are surrounded with questions. Veterans with expiring contracts. Rookies looking to make the jump. New guys in the locker room from questionable trades. Number One goaltender coming back from a major injury. In a year already looking gloom with the moves their division rivals have made – McDavid, Lucic, Hamilton, the list goes on and on – will sophomore coach Willie Desjardins be able to salvage 100 points over the next 82 games as GM Jim Benning expects?

As the Canucks make their way to opening night, we will dive into key story-lines going into the 2015-16 season as a mean to get ourselves ready for the puck to drop.

In this third look into the X-Factors in the 2015-16 Vancouver Canucks roster, we will look at our supposed 2nd-line left winger, none other than Sven Baertschi.

X-Factor #3, Sven Baertschi – 18GP, 2G, 4A

Perhaps unaccounted for in the stat-line above is Sven’s AHL success. In 15 games of Utica action, he was at a point-per-game production, with 7 goals and 8 assists. Even in the playoffs, the Bern, Switzerland native posted another 8 goals and 7 assists in 21 games.

If things go as projected, Baertschi would be a very cost-friendly set-up man in the second line. He would be playing beside mostly Sutter and Vrbata, perhaps with hints of Horvat and Burrows. If Baertschi can live up to expectations and anchor that secondary scoring unit, he would be a very nice side-kick to Horvat during Vancouver’s youth influx.

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At 23 years of age, Baertschi is entering the prime days of his youth playing career. He fits the Jim Benning expectations to a ‘T’, being a true scoring threat and between 22 to 26 years old. However, there is one knock to his reputation, the fact that, at only 5’11” and 190lbs, Baertschi is not a gritty guy who brings the Horvat-like, the McCann-like edge to the ice.

Baertschi may have silenced his critics with his latest performance during the preseason. Not only did he have a 4-assist night playing with Horvat and Virtanen, he was physical. He got into the corners and pried the puck loose with his body, creating turnovers and therefore scoring chances.

And as for his chemistry with his linemates – the line of Jake-Bo-Sven looked awfully good. Even Bo thought so, with his post game comments. He thought that the speed and power of Virtanen, his own two-way play, and Baertschi’s scoring prowness looked really good together. I really want to see them together in the near future, save for the fact that there are no real veterans to anchor them down. I am sure that in a couple years, when Horvat is an established leader, that the line will get a second look.

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The reason Baertschi is on the X-Factor list is that his play will determine the fate of the secondary scoring. Will he play with Horvat or Sutter? Will he play with Burrows or Vrbata? Will he play with Higgins when he comes back, and what about Hansen? There is so much potential found in Sven Baertschi’s speedy, creative, yet patient game, that now that we see him being a solid body-banger, his role is so versatile.

I would love to see him get a look with Horvat and possibly with Vrbby on the second line, letting Sutter play his defensive game with fellow defensive dark-horses Hansen and Higgins.

With the latest waiver moves, Baertschi looks to be a lock on the Canucks’ middle six. He should play with confidence, as that will lead to a breakout season for the skilled playmaker.

My prediction for Sven Baertschi in the 2015-16 season: 20 goals, 25 assists for 45 points.

Next: X-Factor #2 Matt Bartkowski

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