The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.
No. 3 on our list is the Swiss playmaker with a wicked wrister — Sven Baertschi.
#3 – Sven Baertschi
Position: Left Wing
Team: Vancouver Canucks
NHL Experience: 140 Games
How He Got Here
After languishing in various Swiss leagues for several seasons, Sven Baertschi was finally drafted into the WHL by the Portland Winterhawks in 2010-11. Baertschi played for the Winterhawks for two seasons, putting up excellent numbers, before he was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the first round (13th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
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Baertschi skated in five games with the Flames in 2011-12, registering three goals. He started the following season on the big squad, lacing up in 20 games for Calgary and scoring three goals and seven assists before being sent down to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. For the next two seasons after that Baertschi began the year with Calgary but was unceremoniously demoted to the AHL after not meeting the lofty expectations placed upon him.
The high expectations were warranted. Baertschi came up with quite the pedigree from the minors: high first-round draft pick, played in the World Juniors several times, skated in the CHL Top Prospects Game, named to the WHL (West) Second All-Star Team in 2011-12, and led the WHL in goals, assists and points by a rookie, as well as led the WHL in assists and points again in his sophomore year.
A lack of confidence creeped into his game after he only tallied four points in 15 games during 2014-15. That same season Baertschi was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round pick.
Where He Is Today
Baertschi scored two goals in three games with the Canucks before putting up 15 points in 15 games with the Utica Comets. A somewhat rocky season in 2015-16 saw Baertschi regain some of his old confidence and offensive flare to finish strong with 15 goals for a goal-starved Canucks squad.
Today, Baertschi is looking ahead to his second full season with the Vancouver Canucks. He now has a full NHL season under his belt and, most importantly, he is now familiar with and comfortable in the Canucks’ offensive and defensive systems. Baertschi looked like a completely different player in the second half of 2015-16, much to the satisfaction of GM Jim Benning and the rest of the Canucks’ management and ownership teams.
Given that Benning has yet to find another left winger to gobble up second-line minutes and shoulder a good chunk of the offensive load, Baertschi is likely preparing himself mentally and physically for added responsibility. He’ll be looking to build upon his chemistry with Bo Horvat and to improve on his goal and assist totals from last season.
Overall, Baertschi is now poised to capitalize on the success he had in 2015-16.
Where He’s Headed
Very likely to more success if he proceeds along the path he’s currently on. In the near future when Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin are retired, Baertschi will be one of the Canucks called upon to step up and provide the bulk of the scoring. If all goes well, Baertschi will be a consistent 20-30 goal scorer for Vancouver in the coming years. His playmaking abilities will slide him into a crucial top-six role and he’ll be a force on the power play.
The Canucks still need to surround Baertschi with good enough talent to help him flourish. Fortunately, the influx of talented youngsters like Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Brendan Gaunce, Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser, among others, seem poised to provide Baertschi with just that.
Baertschi’s fate is ultimately in his own hands. If he is willing to work hard and take on a larger offensive role, he’ll be given every opportunity to do so. Future seasons of 40-50 points are very much within reach, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be his ceiling. Only time will tell how good of a player Baertschi can truly become.