Baertschi Pushed out of Calgary, Gets a Fresh Start with Canucks

When Sven Baertschi came over from the Swiss-B league and lit up the Portland Winterhawks as a rookie, the Flames ended up drafting him 13th overall in 2011 with hopes that he would become a top six scoring forward.

If Baertschi will ever live up to those expectations is unknown, but what we do know is that he won’t fulfill those expectations in a Calgary Flames uniform.

After an up-and-down tenure in the Flames organization, general manager Brad Treliving traded the former first-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft.

Baertschi played parts of the last four seasons with the Flames organization. It started off well during the 2011-12 campaign when Baertschi potted three goals in his five games with the organization. However that is as many as he would score in one season with the Flames. He never played more than 26 games in a season with Calgary, and only made it into 15 NHL games this season, tallying four assists.

“I want to be an everyday NHL player, and it wasn’t working there” said Baertschi on an interview with TSN Radio Vancouver.

Passed on the Depth Chart

Almost four years have gone by since the Flames drafted Baertschi in the first round, and since that time more recent draft picks have become full-time roster players ahead of the Swiss native.

One of the most prominent Calgary Flames right now was a member of that draft class. Johnny Gaudreau was drafted 104th overall in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL draft, after a stellar rookie season in the USHL. Gaudreau has managed to hold down a roster spot this season, and has 44 points in 61 games this season.

Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau has 44 points in 61 games with the Flames this season. He is one of the players who passed Sven Baertschi on the organizational depth chart.

Another pick from that 2011 draft has played more NHL games than Baertschi this year. Although Markus Granlund has played with Adirondack and Calgary this season, he has made it into 37 games with the Flames this year, registering 13 points. That’s more games in one season that Baertschi ever saw in a Flames uniform.

Although he was never drafted, 24-year-old Josh Jooris was signed as a free agent in July, 2013. As a rookie he has played 45 games with the Flames this season, with 19 points. Jooris has gained more trust from the organization than Baertschi, even though Sven was with the Flames for two years longer.

Finally, Baertschi was passed by a first-round pick who made an immediate impact in the organization. Sean Monahan may have a slightly different skill-set than Baertschi, but the sophomore made an impact with the Flames as an 18-year-old rookie. He hasn’t disappointed in his second season, with 42 points in 62 games.

Sven Baertschi and Travis Green

If Baertschi wants to become a top six forward for the Canucks, he will have to earn his spot. His journey to find his way onto the Canucks top six begins with the Utica Comets.

He joins a Comets team that is at the top of their division and looks to be in the playoffs come April. His old farm team, the Adirondack Flames (who are in the same division as the Utica Comets), are sitting outside of the playoff picture.

Jim Benning hopes that Baertschi can gain some playoff experience down on the farm to benefit his development. It will also help to have his old junior coach, Travis Green, behind the bench when Baertschi joins the Comets.

Baertschi was arguably at his best when he played his junior hockey with Travis Green, who was an assistant coach for the Portland Winterhawks. Baertschi registered 179 points in 113 games during his two seasons in Portland.

“He was unbelievable when I came to Portland,” said Baertschi. “I got there, barely spoke a word of English, and he was there for me. Overall he made me a way better player.”

Baertschi joins the Comets with the third-best points-per-game ratio on the roster, behind captain Cal O’Reilly and newly acquired Cory Conacher.

It will be the first step in building his reputation within the organization.