Vancouver Canucks: Why trading Sven Baertschi is necessary

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 26: Sven Baertschi
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 26: Sven Baertschi /

The Canucks need to find creative ways to continue building their next core. It’s clear to me that Sven Baertschi is not part of that future and should be moved for picks.

During a time where draft picks are critical for building your next core, the Vancouver Canucks are still behind the curve. They have averaged approximately seven picks per draft since Jim Benning got here, which is not enough to establish a new core. This includes the free pick from John Tortorella and the Jannik Hansen trade that occurred because of the Expansion Draft.

Additionally, the Canucks still have problems in their lineup. Depth is a routine problem for this team since injuries are so common. However, as Ben Kuzma points out, the Canucks have too many wingers.

We are excited about young players like Adam Gaudette (who is fortunately a centre) and Elias Pettersson, but there are several players that will be here next year. Add in restricted free agents like Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Jake Virtanen and Reid Boucher to the increasing winger list.

Why Baertschi is the odd man out

Baertschi is better than most of the wingers on this team. However, that reflects more poorly on the Canucks wingers. The Swiss forward produces at a 20-goal pace on an 82-game season. Yet, he has yet to stay healthy enough to achieve that.

Be honest with yourself. On the best teams in the NHL, do you really think Baertschi is a first line winger? He isn’t and depending on the team, he probably would not make it on their second line either. Baertschi is a good complimentary player, but he won’t suddenly produce like an elite first line winger. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity with an awful team.

Assuming all things go well, the Canucks are likely a playoff team in about three years. By then, Sven Baertschi will be 28, past his prime and trailing behind the Canucks future core that as of now, is Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

Simply put, Baertschi is just a stop gap forward during this retool, rebuild, or [insert marketing name here]. He is not part of the future. Furthermore, the Canucks have a couple players that play a similar game as Baertschi, but are closer in age to Horvat.

Brendan Leipsic and Nikolay Goldobin can easily fill that role. Baertschi doesn’t drive any lines offensively on his own and can be readily replaced.

Getting more than we paid for

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When Jim Benning traded for Sven Baertschi, it cost him a 2015 second round pick. At this year’s deadline, we saw Ryan Hartman and a 5th rounder go the Predators for a 1st, 4th and a prospect. Tomas Tatar (who is a healthy scratch in the playoffs this year), was traded to the Golden Knights for 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks.

The trade deadline was a missed opportunity for the Canucks. Draft picks are infinitely cheaper to acquire at the deadline over the draft. However, teams are always looking for scoring depth. At the very least, the Canucks can break even with what they paid to acquire Baertschi.

Realistically, a team looking for a skilled RFA winger to add to their top nine may be willing to part with a 2019 first. Alternatively, it could be a package of 2nd and 3rd round picks. As it currently stands, Sven Baertschi is a very valuable trade chip in the Canucks lineup and with younger players ready to take his spot, the team should make a move.

Here is another issue. Baertschi is due for a raise from his current $1.85 million per year salary. He has arbitration rights. If you think Jim Benning dealing with a UFA is scary, just wait until he enters an arbitration hearing. The Canucks have a lot of cap space, but I would not waste over $4 million per year on a lengthy deal for Sven Baertschi.

Take the easiest route

If Benning wants to avoid that headache and get rewarded with draft picks, all he has to do is move Baertschi. Even if Benning struggles with trading, it is not hard to obtain picks for Baertschi.

Here’s a hint Jim: don’t tell the other teams that you are looking for hockey trades! Tell them that you want draft picks. Be willing to take picks in next year’s draft, which will be in Vancouver, by the way.

Benning’s summer would be monumentally easier without suffering through arbitration hearings. Moving Baertschi out makes some roster issues easier, adds more prospects to the pool and gives you the chance to get younger.

Next: 3 players who did not meet expectations in 2017-18

It’s a win all across the board and losing Baertschi’s production won’t sink the Canucks much farther down the standings. When you’re already near the bottom, you should not be afraid of falling anymore. It matters little to me what happens next season. I am looking towards the future and the Vancouver Canucks should be doing the same.