The Vancouver Canucks have embraced the acquisitions of Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi. We talked to a Calgary Flames expert to see their thoughts on the deal today.
Though Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has garnered mixed reviews throughout his tenure thus far, nobody can deny he struck gold in the Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi trades with the Calgary Flames.
Baertschi, a 2011 Flames first round draft choice, never lived up to expectations and was dealt to the Canucks two years ago in exchange for a 2015 second round pick. He scored 18 goals in 68 games for Vancouver in 2016-17, suggesting he’s ready to be part of this team’s top-six in the long run.
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Granlund was swapped for Hunter Shinkaruk, a 2013 Canucks first rounder who also struggled to develop.
Like Baertschi, Granlund figures to play a key piece in Vancouver’s future, scoring 19 goals in 69 games last season.
Shinkaruk has played a total of just 14 games for Calgary, scoring two goals and registering a pair of assists. So as of now, it’s safe to say Vancouver has one both trades.
I got to chat with Ramina Shlah from Flame for Thought to discuss the trades, and how Calgary feels about them to this day. Check a look at my questions and her answers below:
Alex: Sven Bartschi was a promising prospect in the Flames system. But he didn’t pan out and has since become a reliable top-six forward on the Canucks. Do you think the Flames are to blame for not developing him? Or was Baerstchi lacking the work ethic to shine in Calgary?
"Ramina: I think Baertschi was somewhat lacking in work ethic. The Flames did give him lots of opportunities, but ultimately, he didn’t cut it at the NHL level yet and they wanted to send him back down to develop his skills more. But what lots of people don’t know is that Baertschi didn’t want to be sent down and said that if he doesn’t spend time at the NHL level, he wants a trade. So ultimately, the Flames didn’t quite have that much of a choice with that…So I think the Flames made a good move with that."
Alex: The Flames only got a second round pick for Baertschi, which became defenceman Rasmus Andersson. How is he coming along in the Flames system?
"Ramina: Rasmus Andersson is developing into one of the best defence prospects right now and one of the best prospects in general for the Flames…Our friends over at Flames Nation did a prospect write up on him here, and it’s nothing but good things about him developing into a strong candidate for the team. He may still have another year or two, but he’s not far from the NHL level and I think he has that work ethic the Flames would have liked to have seen with Baertschi."
Alex: Why do you think the Flames gave up on Markus Granlund? He scored 19 goals for Vancouver this past season, but never showed that potential in Calgary. What went wrong?
"Ramina: I don’t think they necessarily completely gave up on him, but they needed a change. At the time the Flames traded Granlund in the middle of the season, they were quite far back in the standings…A player like Granlund wasn’t contributing much at the time with the Flames and it seemed like a solid move…And Granlund maybe wasn’t given the opportunity that he has with the Canucks. He was more of a bottom-six role with the Flames, and he was averaging a good 4-5 minutes less a night than he did with the Canucks this past season."
Alex: Are Flames fans frustrated with Brad Treliving getting low-balled in these trades? Obviously, hindsight 20/20, but the Canucks got two potential 20-goal scorers for seemingly marginal returns.
"Ramina: I think the only thing Flames fans were somewhat frustrated with was the Mike Smith trade, but even now, Flames fans are starting to come to terms with it. I don’t think they’re frustrated by the Granlund and Baertschi trades because they know at the time, it was what needed to be done…Baertschi and Granlund now, seems like it was a bad idea, but they excelled with the Canucks for a reason. I think if they stayed with the Flames, they wouldn’t have had the success they’ve been having with the Canucks. Don’t forget, the Flames have guys right now like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, etc, to be their top-six guys."
Flames loss became Canucks gain
So it appears as though a large portion of Flames fans have been able to come to terms with getting robbed in a pair of trades that strongly benefited Benning and the Canucks.
The Flames, as Ramina pointed out, have a terrific top-six with many young stars like Gaudreau, Monahan and Tkachuk. And as she said, it was tough for them to get the chances of succeeding in Calgary.
Truth be told, the forward-heavy Flames didn’t have a need for Granlund or Baertschi. The Canucks needed to plug those two guys into the roster immediately, and have been thrilled with the results.
Calgary is a rising team in the Western Conference, while the Canucks are slowly starting to rebuild their team into a contender. It’s not every day where two division rivals help each other out, but the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks chose to do business when necessary — and it worked out for both parties.