Sven Baertschi Update



We didn’t get to see much of Sven Baertschi at the WJC since he got injured very early on. He missed a few games for Portland thanks to lingering concussion symptoms after the tournament, but has since returned to duty. Things haven’t gone quite as swimmingly for the 19-year old winger upon his return however.

It’s safe to say Baertschi is suffering through the worst stretch of the season. In January he played six games, scoring three goals and six points, but going a cumulative -7. Actually, Baertschi has only been a plus player in just one of his last 10 games. He was held pointless in three of those games and scored more than one point in just one of those contests.

So it’s been a less than stellar post WJC stretch for Sven. Of course, Baertschi was bound to slow down from his torrid early season pace that saw him scoring at CHL high rate. The hope now, I think, is that he eventually settles somewhere between that dominance and his current lackluster performance.

In terms of point totals and splits, Baetschi’s PPG pace has slowed to 1.90, which projects to "just" 125 points over 66 games (his GP total from last season). His even strength % has marginally increased to 56.7% since the last time we looked, but his percentage of team offense has plumeted to 43.6% from the 51% or so it was in December. That is still a pretty impressive number, but it isn’t nearly as eye-popping as garnering one half of a team’s offense.

Baertschi is still on pace to record the most impressive 18-19 year old season by any Flames forward prospect in a very long time. He remains the organization’s most promising youngster.

That said, the recent stretch suggests some of the hype surrounding the kid should be tempered a little bit. 

  • SmellOfVictory


    Sven: Believe.

    On a somewhat related note, John Gadreau has slowed down significantly as well; he began the year at a PPG pace, but has since dropped off considerably. Hard to tell what the reason might be though, since NCAA has literally no information of use to us that they release.

  • Franko J

    I’ve never seen a hockey player come back from a concussion and do well. They are good enough to play but they are always a bit off. Claude Giroux is a good example, only lately has he started putting points up again after getting concussed.

    So I will not temper my optimism!!!

  • I’ve decided that all negative news is fabricated and only the positive news is truth. Isn’t that what our culture tells us. Maybe I’ll listen. Now they will make playoffs and eliminate the canucks in the first round.

  • Robb

    It’s gotta be a lot due to the concussion problem. We all knew he would have to slow down the pace he was one, but damn if that pace didn’t come to pretty much a grinding halt(comparetively to his previous pace). Maybe later in the season we’ll see the True Sven, like you suggest, more a middle ground.

    Either way, THERE IS STILL MASSIVE HYPE! Still hyping for that top 6 potential.

  • Robb

    Flames fans have treated him like Leaf fans do with every prospect. they think he’s GOLD. Has a good run in juniors and everyone thinks, “Ah the next Gretzky.” I think The Feast talked him up to make people think, “see i can pick talent” It takes a special player to be able to put up numbers in Juniors and the NHL. He’s a small guy the NHL is a different game. My projection is hes a guy who will have speed and potential but never be as good as he was in the CHL because he cant handle the bigger game. Sorry, but who knows maybe i’m wrong. That is why i am saying and have said before, a top 5 pick is needed in this organization. Over 60% of top 5 picks have (so far) panned out to be pretty good players, after that it drops to less than 25%. Rare do game changers come in after the 2nd round. The team needs a new direction. Win now shouldnt be on the table, that isnt “Intellectually honest”. It should be shoot for the moon, we’ll give it the ole college try, win one for the Gipper, etc. But dont get your hopes up. I think with proper management and scouting this team could be a cup contender in 3 years, and i’m talking contender for years. Feaster isnt the right guy to make those decisions nor is Brent Sutter the right guy to coach this team. Sorry Brent you tried and failed.

    • RexLibris

      I’m curious about what management moves you see getting the team into a position of perennial contender in such a short turnaround.

      I’ve discussed with some other people here about possible directions (trade for as many first-round picks this year as possible, pursue free agents, leverage the expiring UFAs to return some key top 6 roster pieces, etc).

      I have long argued that any evaluation of this team to try and change course without taking it apart piece by piece would have to start with their scouting staff, both amateur and pro. Until those areas improve attempting to trade a key piece or star for anything to reboot the franchise is highly unlikely to be very successful.

      Feaster not necessarily being the right person to effect a change is certainly understandable, and I wouldn’t argue with you there. I’m just not certain who would be a better GM choice at this time. I haven’t seen that many candidates for future GM positions discussed anywhere recently.

      I really can’t speak to Brent Sutter as a coach. I don’t watch enough to make any informed comment on his systems, although I know that this is a topic that comes under some serious discussion here.

      Earlier on this season I was wondering if the Flames would have the courage to break ties with the Sutters finally and try hiring Ken Hitchcock. His success with veteran squads and defensive schemes seemed like a perfect fit, and yet the predilection in the Flames organization for that family seems to have cost them several opportunities to move in a different direction. I don’t know if Hitchcock would have had the same success in Calgary as he is having in St. Louis, but I always wondered why nobody thought to give it a try.

      Anyway, long rant but I’m just curious what sort of moves you’d have in mind to turn the organization around in three years.

  • RexLibris

    I wouldn’t be so quick to place the blame on Baertschi’s reduced production on the concussion. It is quite common for young players in the WHL to hit the wall in January or February if they have returned from the WJC or if they are playing their first season in North America.

    Derek Laxdal (Oil Kings coach) was very cautious with his returning WJC players, giving guys like Gernat, Pelss, and Pysyk almost a week off after they got back just to rest up. Last year Martin Marincin started the season off at nearly a ppg pace and then went to the WJC. Even though he sat out most of it on a suspension, when he returned his point production was reduced to about half his earlier pace. It just happens with kids.

    Baertschi may still be recovering, but my guess is that it has more to do with a young kid finding consistency at a high level and hitting the wall just past the mid-point of the season until the Winterhawks say otherwise.

    I do agree with Kent’s point though about tempering expectations about this young man. He is playing on a very good team with some strong support in talent and even though his numbers appear to show that he is an instigator of that team’s success, patience and moderation must always be at the fore when evaluating these kids.

  • beloch

    Time for some perspective.

    If we say Baertschi’s “worst stretch of the season” has been since his concussion, that’s a stretch where he has been putting up 1 point per game. Using an equivalency of 0.3 for the WHL that would put him on track for a 25 point season in the NHL.

    That’s 25 points if Sven were to play his worst hockey this year for a full season at the NHL level. 25 points is what Michael Backlund put up last season when he was 2 years older than Sven is now.

    Now ask yourself, is it fair to estimate a player’s future performance based on a seven game sample after an injury? Baertschi had a “light concussion” at a time when awareness over concussions is at an all-time high and has perhaps even crossed the line into paranoia. Even just a couple of years ago he would have likely been back in action the very next game after his concussion. His slow performance in early January might be as easily blamed on a month’s worth of rust as the after-effects of a concussion.

    So, to all the Baertschi apocalypse watchers out there, chill out. He’s not doing as bad right now as you think. There’s no way to know for sure how he’ll perform at the NHL level until he gets there, and that will be next season or sooner.

    • RexLibris

      Right on buddy. I guess thats why they make teams play the games before determining final standings & thats why we need to let these kids play the NHL games to see if they can play at the NHL level. Until then, they are just crystal balls.

    • I have no idea who you are arguing with. Baertschi apocalypse watchers? I have yet to see anyone comment here or anywhere else that because he’s had a rough 10-game stretch he’s therefore going to be terrible.

      As for his rough stretch, I’m guessing it’s mostly variance. Bartschi’s true skill is obviously not 1 PPG because he did better than that last year. But he’s probably also not a 2 PPG player because those are exceedingly rare, so this is just some regression to the mean.

  • beloch

    lets hope sven is a better nhl talent than micky backwards. backlund has been in my opinion a disappointment. we hear the standard line of wait til next year, as tom petty once stated the waiting is the hardest part. sammy gagner was being considered a bust, whilst backwards is being touted as on schedule in regards to development.

    • SmellOfVictory

      The only reason people were calling Gagner a bust was that he’d been in the NHL for 4 seasons. It’s easy to forget how young a player is when they’ve been around that long. As to Backlund, I disagree with you 100%. I’m more disappointed in Sutter’s use of Backlund than anything else.

      The one thing I will say is that Backs probably would’ve been better served as a 1st line C in Abbotsford last season, as opposed to the Flames’ 4th line C.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Kind of agree & if he had got 5-6 games like Brodie to get a taste & then back down Backlund would be eligible as rookie this year just like Brodie. I think Brodie should get honourable mention when considering Calder candidates. JMO. Problem was, we had both Sutters, the lack of youth bashing was at an all time high & we never let young guys have the proper opportunity under that Sutter regime. People just dont want to give Feaster credit for changing the corporate climate & perception & even now we finally are feeling like we have something in the future cubboards. I just think writing off Backlund is a huge mistake. That injury out of the gate sucked & by the time he got back in, this team was already entrenched in its crapola Oct/Nov starts. Mark my words, in 2 years, this kid will be a top 6 player for this hockey club.

        • RexLibris

          What qualifications do you feel would give Brodie an honourable mention in the Calder race?

          When I look at his numbers this year there isn’t much to suggest that he be considered in the same category as some of the other names that have been mentioned (Read, Adam, Larsson, Henrique). I understand that numbers almost never favour a defenseman, so that is why I’m wondering what you feel makes him stand out.

          From what I’ve seen he appears to make good decisions with the puck and is a good passer.

          As for Backlund, I agree that it is far too early to make a call on him yet. He’s a large body with talent and a sense for the game. I wonder if he wouldn’t be having more success if he were playing with more productive wingers. Somebody mentioned Gagner as a rough comparison and SOV was right when he mentions that Gagner has been around the league longer and his age is often forgotten in the equation. I would give Backlund some more time and perhaps if he can find some more gifted finishing wingers his numbers will improve. I still say that his career trajectory will average out to a middling second-line centre to above average third-line centre. Not bad for a 24th overall pick.

          I also agree that he will be a top six forward on the team in a few years, but I’m not certain we’d agree on why.

          • RexLibris

            Dont get me wrong, honourable mention & Calder nominees are two different animals. Watching Brodie closely, this is a kid that has stepped in as a rookie, has poise on his transition game, doesnt get burnt a lot, has great on ice awareness and creativity. This kid is just a rookie & playing 15-20 minutes. We lose 9-0 to Boston, our worst loss I can remember, he played 23 minutes or so & was a 0 +-. Most teams, including the Oilers would love to have this kid. I realize he wont get a whiff of consideration. He’s been one of the shining lights for the Flames this year on a consistent basis on a very inconsistent team. Gio has never been able to get the league to acknowledge his star status, Brodie will, just wait & see. You heard it first from Kevin R. Swammi extraordinaire. 🙂

  • RKD

    Well, we should give him more time, we tend to lost patience rather quickly with our prospects. Many Flames fans have already given up on Backlund simply because of his low point production.

    Baertschi will rebound, he has a lot of talent but it always takes time to regain your form after an injury.

    I have a lot of optimism for Sven, but I’m not going to crown him as the saviour for this team but I hope he’s the guy Iggy could pass the torch to. I would love Sven to come in the NHL and dominate.

    It’s about time the Flames had a player of his ilk and calibre.

  • RKD

    Who to come in and take over the GM job i agree, slim pickings. Feaster has proven he’s a good AGM but the guy doing the bidding, not so much. I would really look into trying to pry Jim Nill from Detroit. I think Bob Nicholson from Hockey Canada would be a great guy as the team President who knows his hockey and who to pick. Maybe bring in a guy with some background and an up and coming AGM like Hextall or Goulet, maybe heaven forbit, Gretzky (i know its a swear in these parts). Maybe get Don Cherry to come coach the team. Ok ok, i’m talkin out my butt but you understand.

    I do hope Sven is ok. hopefully i’m wrong. But this team cant just continually pick in the middle of the pack, each year a “tweek here and a tweek there” and think that will do it. This team really lacks leadership and good size. I’m talking power forwards and great puck handlers. The defense isnt looking as bad as most of us thought but the offense is just . . . although i think that has a lot to do with Sutter hockey.

    • everton fc

      I’ll toss a name out here – Jason Botterill in Pittsburgh. Knows the business. Knows the game. He has a history with our organization, not to mention an MBA from the University of Michigan. He’s helped managed both the cap and scouting in Pittsburgh. Not to mention salary arbitration.

      His name never comes up. It should. He’d be my #1 choice…

      I’d keep Goulet, though. But as AGM. And I’d groom Conny, if he actually has the talent to help this organization. Sometimes I wonder if he’d be of more benefit as an assistant, behind the bench…

      As post-Brent coach, I sometime wonder how Troy Ward would do up here? I know Abby’s his first high profile head coaching gig, but I like him. But the one I’d love to see get the gig is Bob Boughner. He’s great with young players, but I get a sense he’d also do well with the vets. He was tough as nails as a player, and I think his character and will-to-win would bring new life to this mediocre-at-best organization.

      As for Baertschi… My concern has always been his size, and will his size and strength ever measure-up to NHL level. The kid obviously knows how to play the game. But the WHL is a long way from the NHL.

      Hoping he does well… I remain level-headed, for now.

      My concern w/last years draft on the offencive side was size. Small players were picked at the forward positions. I think the future is in size. Size and speed. Hard to find… but good scouts find these guys others overlook.

  • MC Hockey

    Hard to hear about any concussion especially on a top prospect with a great attitude and work ethic like Sven! Hope here covers 100% but recent evidence suggests otherwise (but hope I am wrong). As for Backlund well I know from certain fantasy experts that most top players don’t hit their scoring stride until year 4. So perhaps Gagner in Edmonton is showing his potential as expected…noting he started NHL young and Backlund is still on schedule.

  • Franko J

    @ everton FC

    I tend to disagree with Boughner as coach. From my perspective he reminds me too much like a Sutter. For the past 14 years with this organization it has invested so heavily in the Sutter philosophy of managing and coaching that it begs the question: What has it done for this organization?
    A second point is that the Boughner I believe has family issues and therefore would be very hard to lure him here to coach.

    I agree size, speed, and skill are not only hard to find, but to draft. The scouting at the NHL level is very sophisticated, therefore, it is very difficult to draft that kind of combination in a player if you don’t draft in the top 10.
    Usually the top 10 of draft eligible players either have one or two of those attributes which teams too often select and not miss upon. With exception to say a “Getzlaf or Carter” Calgary is always in the outer fringes and pick the “best prospect available” syndrome.