While a lot of the eyes of the hockey trade world are on the escalating situation chunrs towards a Taylor Hall trade (where there’s little, if any indication the Penguins are deeply involved in), there’s another player and team that’s probably worth keeping an eye on too.
The Canucks are working with Sven Baertschi’s agent to try and find him a new home.— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) December 14, 2019
Baertschi’s agent Andre Rufener would like a change of scenery for his client, ‘We would like to get traded, I am in contact with Jim Benning, he knows that.’
Baertschi is signed for this season and next year at a $3.36 million cap hit. He has fallen out of favor and out of the shuffle in Vancouver, and is currently lighting up the AHL with scoring rates that pretty clearly show he’s too good for that league and belongs in the NHL with 22 points in 15 games with Utica. His hockeydb resume shows a fairly productive player, but one that comes with an injury history as well
Thanks to the joyfully returned SKATR charts, let’s compare Baertschi’s last 32 NHL games (his 2018-19 season and the six games this year) to Alex Galchenyuk’s 22 game sample with the Pens. It’s not a ton of minutes in either sample, but it is something.
The big difference between the two would be Baertschi’s ability to score goals, compared to Galchenyuk’s advantage in assists. Relative to teammates, Baertschi’s expected goal rate (62) compared to Galchenyuk (8) really stands out as well.
Baertschi is an analytic gem, a player who puts up great rate stats, and looks good compared to his teammates. Nucks Misconduct summed it up pretty well in his 2018 season review:
It is the little things in his game that are supplied on the ice, but not always on the stat sheet. Baertschi gives the Canucks superb puck skills along with outstanding offensive instincts. He is one of the few Canucks that I witnessed showing risk and determination in high traffic areas. Let’s all be prepared to witness (if healthy), a 40 point season from Sven.
It’s been the injuries that have derailed him, the hope of a 40 points season has eluded him, despite being on pace to put up those types of numbers in several seasons. Is that a trend he’s stuck in? Or is this perhaps a “value add” where a player can add a lot if there’s the ability to stay available for games.
Given the Canucks’ salary cap logjam, there might not be a trade to make with Galchenyuk ($4.9m cap hit) going directly for Baertschi (who counts $2.2m while buried in the minor leagues) but as often with these types of situations, where there is a will, there is a way.
Vancouver may be motivated to give a player a new start. The Pens need to upgrade the aspect of skill on the wings, and can use a winger capable of scoring goals. Pittsburgh may be cautious about Baertschi’s injury history, and perhaps has other options, but this year it doesn’t seem like a ton of players available in trades so far. One that probably would be is Baertschi and we’ll have to see how his trade process unfolds.