Vancouver Canucks 2018-19 season grades: Sven Baertschi

At The Canuck Way, we’re recapping and grading the Vancouver Canucks the from 2018-19 season. Up next, forward Sven Baertschi.

Last offseason, the Vancouver Canucks were confident that Sven Baertschi would be a key part of their offence over the long run, and he was rewarded with a three-year deal worth $10.1 million.

It looked like a fair contract at the time. Baertschi tallied 15 goals in 2015-16, 18 in 2016-17 and 14 in 53 games last season. This was a player who nearly scored 20 goals in three straight years, and if he simply stayed healthy, Baertschi would finally hit the feat in 2018-19.

Unfortunately,  Baertschi only appeared in 26 games this season, due a to a concussion/post-concussion syndrome). But when he was on the ice, Baertschi delivered on offence. He finished the year with nine goals and a respectable 14 points in those 26 contests.

It’s hard to judge and grade Baertschi’s 2018-19 season. It’s obviously disappointing that injuries derailed a promising season, but again, the man simply produced when he was on the ice.

Let’s take a look at Baertschi’s grade for 2018-19, along with our expectations for next year.

Season grade: C+

You can make a case that Baertschi deserved a better grade. But the reality is that when a key player misses significant time, it’s hard to warrant a strong grade. That said, I was impressed with how Baertschi performed over those 26 games, so an “I” seemed like an unfair grade.

In 2017-18, Baertschi looked like a natural fit with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser — and the “Killer B’s” line was formed. Baertschi would have definitely finished with a career year if he didn’t miss significant time with a broken jaw.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see what the new line would do for an encore. Without Baertschi, Horvat and rookie Elias Pettersson were forced to go through revolving doors of different wingers.

While Boeser and Pettersson produced results, Horvat didn’t have a winger that produced like Baertschi last season.

At any rate, Baertschi’s numbers in those 26 contests suggest that he would registered 20-plus goals, and he would have been good for 40-plus points.

But a closer look at the numbers will tell you that Baertschi wasn’t all that great on the ice. For example, he only had a Corsi For percentage of 45.03, a Goals For percentage of 39.29 and a Scoring Chances For percentage of 41.94, per Natural Stat Trick.

Of course, those numbers came in a short sample size. If he was healthy and playing with Horvat, Baertschi would have definitely gotten better as the season progressed. The Canucks have to hope that he’ll be healthy in 2019-20, simply because Baertschi is capable of producing big numbers. We just haven’t seen it happen yet.

Expectations for next year

Over the last four seasons, Baertschi has missed 13, 14, 29 and 56 games. That’s quite scary, considering he’s only 26 years of age. And sadly, there’s never a guarantee that a severely concussed player will be fully healthy again.

As harsh as it sounds, we just can’t expect Baertschi to suit up for 70-plus games at this stage. That’s why it’s hard to set realistic expectations and point projections for next year. For all we know, he recovers well in the offseason and plays every game in 2019-2020.

If he can do that, Baertschi should be able to put up around 15-25 goals and hopefully 40-45 points. That’s just assuming head coach Travis Green assigns him to the Horvat line. Maybe he’ll be a bottom six forward instead.

All Canucks coaches, players and fans can do is cross their fingers and hope Baertschi will be healthy next season.