The Vancouver Canucks have to try and find a way to move out the final season of Sven Baertschi’s contract.
The next two offseasons could define the tenure of Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, to say the least.
With very limited cap room, Benning has to find a way to extend top goalie and reigning team MVP Jacob Markstrom. He will have to keep at least one of Chris Tanev (a pending UFA) and Troy Stecher (a pending RFA). There is no way Benning can afford to lose both blueliners.
Franchise stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be RFAs after next season. Even if both were to sign bridge deals (not a guarantee by any means), they’ll still take up giant amounts of cap space.
Simply put, Benning is going to have to find a way to clear cap room this offseason. His best bet is to unload some veteran contracts, though that’s obviously much easier said than done.
One of Benning’s primary trade candidates is veteran forward Sven Baertschi, who spent most of 2019-20 with the Utica Comets in the AHL. Baertschi had two assists in six games for the Canucks this season.
Baertschi was placed on waivers back in December, but he went unclaimed. After this season, he only has one year left on his deal (a $3.36 million cap hit, per CapFriendly). So the 27-year-old will hopefully be a little easier to trade in the offseason.
Baertschi has never once played 70-plus games in a season, but teams might be intrigued by his ability to play in the top six. Baertschi had 18 goals and 35 points despite missing 14 games in 2016-17, and we can’t forget his quality production with Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat in 2017-18 (14 goals and 29 points in 53 games that season).
There are a handful of teams that are rich in cap space; ones who should be willing to take on Baertschi if it means adding a “sweetener” such as a mid or late-round pick and/or a prospect. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings come to mind, for instance.
Baertschi won’t be easy to trade by any means, but we’ve seen more undesirable contracts get moved out. We’re talking about a potential top-nine forward when healthy, and with only one year left on his deal at a reasonable cap hit, the Canucks might have more luck trading Baertschi this offseason compared to a few months ago.