Since being dealt to the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline, Sven Baertschi has been on fire — that is, in the AHL.
Drafted thirteenth overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Baertschi has struggled to break onto an NHL roster full-time. Although the 22-year-old Swiss forward has been a nearly point-per-game producer at the AHL level since graduating from the Portland Winterhawks (and was a dynamo during the WHL playoffs), he hasn’t seen his game click in the big leagues.
Whether that’s due to limited minutes, NHL-related performance anxiety, or a combination of the two, though, Baertschi was eventually dealt out of Alberta — and now, after going on a scoring tear with the Utica Comets that surpasses even his previous scoring abilities, the Canucks are giving him a shot.
The team confirmed that Baertschi has been recalled on Friday morning, which will give him enough time to arrive in Vancouver and travel to Winnipeg with the rest of the team.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning has made it clear that, during the games he’s seen Baertschi appear in for Utica, the young forward has impressed him. He’s a high-energy forward despite being a little on the small side, and the team may be looking to push for a stronger, more prolific offense as they face off against a team fighting to regain control of the second Western Conference Wild Card spot.
Of course, the Canucks are already at a bit of an advantage.
It was announced on Thursday afternoon that Winnipeg Jets power skater Dustin Byfuglien was awarded a four game suspension following his cross-check to New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller, so the Central Division franchise has already lost a good chunk of their size. This could give Vancouver the edge, as Baertschi will be joining his new club for the first time against a team likely scrambling to replace the 22-plus minutes of ice time Byfuglien provided each night; with a good, confident roster debut likely to lead to positive results, this could be the game that jump-starts Baertschi moving forward. He’s already notched 13 points in 12 appearances in Utica — if he can provide even a fraction of that offense, the Canucks may be a team to take seriously in the playoffs.