Sven Baertschi (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Sven Baertschi was a promising prospect for the Flames when drafted 13th overall in 2011, but he failed to catch in Calgary. But a trade to Vancouver rejuvenated the 23-year-old’s career, and now he’s signed a two-year, $3.7 million deal.
Sven Baertschi could never find his fit with the Flames, and after three trying campaigns, the 2011 13th-overall selection was shipped out of Calgary to the division-rival Canucks. The move didn’t look like much at the time, but the 23-year-old winger made his mark in Vancouver this past season.
In 69 games in 2015-16, Baertschi potted 15 goals and 28 points, both miles ahead of his previous career-highs of three goals and 11 points. He skated in a third-line role, played minutes on the power play and was a nice, young depth piece for the Canucks throughout the past campaign. And getting his career back on track has paid off for Baertschi, who Thursday inked a two-year, $3.7-million deal to remain in Vancouver. The contract will pay Baertschi $1.7 million in 2016-17 and $2 million the following season.
The deal isn’t just a reward for his play last season, though. What the Canucks are really hoping is that it’s a sweetheart deal for a player who can score 20-plus goals for them both this coming campaign and in 2017-18.
“The last half of the season he really blossomed and we’re hoping he’s a 20-goal scorer,” Canucks GM Jim Benning told The Province’s Ben Kuzma. “And then we’ll just see where his development goes. It’s a fair deal for Sven and it’s a good deal for us and to having some cap certainty going into free agency is going to help us.”
It’s likely that Baertschi moves up the lineup next season, or at least averages more ice time than the 13:27 he saw in 2015-16, in order to take that next step forward and score 20 goals. Baertschi’s most frequent linemate during the 2015-16 season was Bo Horvat, and with Horvat expected to eventually make the move to second-line center, Baertschi could again be playing on Horvat’s wing.
If Baertschi does turn into a 20-goal scorer, and he definitely had that potential before entering the league, the price tag for him will look like a steal. And even if that means his next contract, which could be negotiated as early July, sees a bump in pay, it’s something the Canucks will gladly take with their current lack of scoring talent — outside of Daniel Sedin, of course — on the left wing.
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins praised Baertschi’s hard work to Kuzma, and now it will take another season of hard work for Baertschi to prove the Canucks were right to reward him and the Flames wrong to send him packing.