Sven Baertschi Emerges


When FlamesNation covered the draft from Minnesota, we marked Sven Baertschi as one of the best draft targets for the franchise at 13, but he wasn’t a run-away pick or anything. He had some pretty good results in his draft season, but nothing that suggested he was taken late or was a profoundly high value pick outside the top-10.

The 18-year old swiss winger had himself an excellent first training camp with the Flames, showing perhaps the best performance by a first year forward that I’ve personally seen since I started writing about the team. He was legitimately dangerous in just about every game he appeared in, ranging from the rookie tournament all the way up to exhibition contests versus NHLers.

Even a nice pre-season didn’t prepare anyone for what Baertschi has done in the WHL though. The kid has absolutely exploded for the Portland Winterhawks so far: in just 23 games played, he has 12 goals, 41 assists and 53 points (!!). Baertschi is currently 4th in WHL scoring despite missing 8 games and his point-per-game pace of 2.30 is the best in the entire CHL. The current WHL scoring leader is Mark Stone, a 20-year old from the Brandon Wheat Kings, who has 62 points in 32 games. At his current pace, Baertschi would have an expected 73 points in the same number of games and would be leading the WHL scoring race by more than 11-points over Stone. Baertschi scored 85-points in 66 games last year. If he can maintain his current pace, it projects to a 152-point season in the same amount of games played.


Another way to look at prospects production is translate their output by an NHL equivalency factor – essentially projecting how many points a player would get in the big league given his current production in junior. The CHL-to-NHL equivalence according to Gabriel Desjardins is about 0.30. If we apply that to Baertshi, we get an expected 82-game NHL output of about 57-points as an 18-year old. 

That’s incredible. 

The only 2011 draftee doing better than that right now is Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and he’s actually playing in the NHL. For further context, check out how other Flames prospects are shaking out by this measure.

To further examine Baertschi’s output, I have tracked his even strength and power play production so far this season. In addition, I have added up the Winterhawk’s total offense in the games he’s appeared in so we can get a sense for the degree to which the kid has contributed to the club’s overall output.

Game Team Goals ESP PPP SHP ENP
1 1 0 1 0 0
2 4 0 1 0 0
3 2 0 1 0 0
4 5 2 2 0 0
5 0 0 0 0 0
6 4 1 2 0 0
7 6 2 2 0 0
8 7 1 2 0 0
9 4 2 1 0 0
10 6 1 0 0 0
11 3 2 1 0 0
12 6 1 2 0 0
13 4 2 1 0 0
14 7 1 2 0 0
15 3 0 0 0 0
16 5 1 1 0 0
17 6 3 0 1 0
18 5 2 0 0 0
19 6 3 1 0 0
20 5 0 1 0 0
21 7 2 1 0 0
22 5 2 1 0 0
23 3 1 0 0 0
Totals 104 29 23 1 0

The chart shows team offense, as well as Baertschi’s even strength, PP, SH and empty net points. Here’s how the ratios shake out:

% at even strength: 55.8%

% on PP: 44.2%

% of team offense: 51.0%

Sven is certainly making hay with the man advantage, but he’s also getting the job done at five-on-five. His current ES scoring pace is 1.26 points-per-game. Even if we eliminate his PP scoring, Sven would be projected to finish with 81-points in 64 games this season (his highest potential game total).

The really eye-popping figure, however, is percentage of team offense. It’s by far the biggest contribution by a prospect that I’ve seen since I started looking at this stuff. To put it in perspective, Greg Nemisz was in the 25% range for the Windsor Spitfires – less than half of Baertschi’s ratio. Most Flames forwards prospects over the last couple of years have settled in and around 30% or so.

The Portland Winterhawks are a high octane team and there is some speculation of whether Baertschi was benefiting from his environment. What the 51% number suggests, however, is that he is the straw stirring the drink.

For further evidence, consider that fellow 2011 draftee and frequent linemate Ty Rattie scored just 11 points in the 8 games Baertschi missed for a PPG pace of 1.38. In the 23 games Baertschi has played, Rattie has 46 points (2.0 PPG). Those are small samples, of course, but the results again point to Baertschi being a central figure of the attack.

Those are just absurdly good results. Light years beyond anything the Flames have seen from a forward prospect in a very long time. It’s only a small portion of the season and it’s entirely probable Baertschi will slow down at some point. However, even if he scores just a 1.0 point-per-game for the rest of the year (less than half of his current pace), he’ll finish the year with 94-points in 64 games. If he drops to "just" 1.5 points-per-game, Baertschi will manage 114-points this season assuming he plays the rest of his games. The top scorer in the league last season was Linden Vey, who garnered 116-points in 69 games – and it was his 19-20 year old year.

I’ll stress that it’s early right now and it’s probably too soon to be crowning Sven as the "savior of the franchise" or any such thing. But the early returns couldn’t possible be any better.

  • I dont watch the minor leagues, so I have no idea, but I heard he had a cat on his line who people are saying is the driving factor behind Svens point production.

    Could you speak to this, Kent? True, not true, shades of grey, etc?

  • flamesburn89

    Awesome news for the Flames. At the time of the draft, I was hoping that the Flames would take Bartschi, just because he was about the only prospect in their drafting range that I had seen play. After reading the draft profiles here on, I saw that Bartschi and Mark Mcniel were the 2 best choices for the Flames.

    This kid seems like the real deal. I cant wait to see him play for Switzerland at the upcoming WJC.

    • icedawg_42

      In the small sample size I’ve seen, Im far more impressed with Baertschi than McNeill – that said, Portland is among the top teams in the ‘dub, and PA is even worse than Schevvy’s beloved Lethbridge Hurricanes. McNeill is a big dominant type power forward, where Sven seems to have all the high end tools, and creativity. I wanted the Flames to pick McNeill at the draft, but I think in hind sight, Im glad they chose Sven….on an interesting side note, though I’ll be staying home to watch Sven on TV, McNeill’s team is in Calgary taking on the Hitmen tonight.

  • icedawg_42

    As always I’d recommend tempering your expectations of a dominating junior, but in Sven’s case I think some excitement is warranted. I agree with Kent, I think he may be more of a driving factor than a benefactor of playing with Rattie, but we’ll see. The most encouraging thing to me is that coaches rave about his otherworldly work ethic and love for being on the ice. I think we’ve got a winner here.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Hi Kent- Nice article. How about John Gaudreau? This is the type of player I’m interested in. Taken in the lower rounds from a non CHL league.

    It would be interesting to see how he rates in a similar fashion you did for Bartschi. Plus he’s in a new league on a new team.

    In terms of unearthing gems in the draft, I think these kind of guys is where a team can make hay.

    I hope he makes the US WJ team. I want to see him against the best under 20’s.

  • icedawg_42

    One can only hope his developement continues and he stays healthy. I expect he will overtake Stone eventually for the overall point lead, but keep in mind he’ll likely miss a few games while competing for Switzerland later this month.

    • icedawg_42

      haha…pretty much just PA, and yeah, they’re some kinda awful. Although, in the western conference Everett has 15 points…FIFTEEN…in 29 games..that’s some kinda putrid.

  • Truculence

    Only qualifier I would add is that he has only 12 goals. He is definitely driving possession and generating tons of scoring chances for his linemates, but he has to pull the trigger a little more. The guy actually has a lethal shot, but is content this year to set up Ty Rattie a little too much for my liking.

    Anyways, I’ve had him pegged as a first-liner since I saw him play in the playoffs last year. Even with guys like Johanssen and Niedereitter in the team, his play impressed me the most in the post-season.

    Very intelligent player that thinks the game at an exceptional level, has a great shot, and good vision. His skating is slightly above average. If he improves a little more in that department, watch out!

  • Truculence

    Also, despite a slow year, don’t overlook Max Reinhart. The guy picks up his play in big games, and is just one of the smartest players I’ve seen since Langkow. His positioning on the ice is a beautiful thing to watch. In fact, he was the best player in the WHL playoffs last year, and even outplayed the heavyweights on Portland last year, thereby allowing his team to win the series.

    The points are’nt coming at the same rate as last year’s playoffs this year, but he’s still the best player on a pretty weak team offensively. More productive wingers would definitely elevate his counting stats. Indeed, if Reinhart were to go down for any length of time, the Ice would be in big trouble.

    BTW, he has done a heck of a job mentoring his younger brother. Fingers crossed that we have the ability to draft Sam next year (and Griffin this year). Wouldn’t that trio be somehting: A two-way center capable of hefty lifting in Max; a scoring and visionary center in Sam; and a big, mobile, physical, D-man with a big shot in Griffin.

    Ahh, to dream….

  • RKD

    It’s the Flames turn to reap the rewards of high draft pick.

    Hopefully, this kid can come into the NHL and dominate next season. We deserve it after busting losers like Rico Fata and Daniel Tkachuk.

    After Fleury we had Iginla now the next torch bearer should be Bartshi assuming he pans out.

    He is absolutely dominating the WHL. Next season, the Flames starting lineup will look quite different, just like the d is right now.