Breaking Down Sven Baertschi’s Incredible Season


The Portland Winterhawks fell to the Edmonton Oil Kings in game 7 of the WHL finals last night, ending what is likely one of the best seasons by any Flames prospect in the last two decades. Former 13th overall pick Sven Baertschi led the league in scoring in the post-season (34 points) and would have run away with the regular season title except for injuries and call-ups.

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Back in February I looked at Baertschi’s splits in terms of % of offense at even strength, power play and total team output. This is a quick way to determine whether a player is overly reliant on either the PP or on a strong team for his scoring. Here is how Baertschi’s regular season shook out:

  • Total points: 94
  • Points-per-game: 2.0
  • Even strength points: 54
  • Power play points: 35
  • Short-handed points: 5
  • Total team offense: 222
  • ES%: 60.7
  • PP%: 39.3
  • TEAM%: 42.3
  • NHLE: 49.0

This is all good news. Baertschi is the first Flames prospect I have seen account for 40+% of the team’s total scoring in his 18-19 year old season. Greg Nemsiz, in contrast, was at 25% as a teen for Windsor. Ryan Howse managed 33.4% of the Bruins offense in his season after being drafted, but only 50% of his scoring came at even strength.

Baertschi was a central figure in Portland’s offense and he did most of his damage at 5on5. There are no red flags here.

Furthermore, Baertschi’s NHLE (NHL equivalency) is the highest I’ve seen for a Flames prospect since I started calculating it a few years ago and is likely the highest amongst the 2012 draft class (Jonathan Huberdeau was close at 47.8). For those who are unfamiliar, NHLE is calculated by using a translation factor to determine how much offense in a given, lower league is "worth" in the NHL. Most decent forward prospects fall in the 30-35 range in terms of NHLE. Only the very best prospects tend to crest 45 as teenagers.

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Sven Baertschi had the highest point-per-game rate in the CHL this season despite being a teenager. He was in on nearly half of his team’s scoring while he was in the line-up and more than 60% of his offense came at even strength.

Pencil him onto the big club’s line-up next year. This dude is ready for prime time.

  • Gange

    I can honestly say that this is probably the first Flames prospect I’m genuinely excited to see play.

    I’d be curious how he would stack up against previous year draft picks say:

    Taylor Hall
    Tyler Seguin

    • They all made the show as 18-year olds so it’s tough to compare.

      I put together Baertschi’s comparables back in February as well, but I limited it to guys who played in junior in their 18-19 year old season.

      The only guys ahead of him in terms of NHL were London Kinghts (a ridiculously stacked team) and Wojtek Wolski. Baertschi beat out guys like Logan Couture, Cody Hodgson, Nazem Kadri, Bobby Ryan, Jordan Eberle, Brandon Dubinsky, James Neal, Mike Richards and even Claude Giroux.

  • supra steve

    Nice read Kent.
    Last time I was this jacked to see a young prospect coming up with the Flames was Iggy. No one since has come close, till now. And yes, I do understand that Sven has done nothing (almost) in the NHL yet. But I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    I see many comments on FN warning of going the total rebuild route like Edm. is doing. If the young prospects that such a rebuild would yield generate any more of this type of interest/excitement, then I say BRING ON THE REBUILD! Long overdue.

  • xis10ce

    I was very saddened when I opened up the WHL site this morning to find that Sven will not be going to the Memorial Cup. Still, quite the run for him this season. I look forward to seeing more of him next season on dome ice (most likely).

  • Gange

    I can honestly say that I wasn’t stoked about Iggy before he started playing. That was likely due to lack of information though.

    Nemisz I was reasonably interested in seeing his skills but am still sceptical. Beyond that I guess I was pretty stoked to see Erixon but not in the same way.

    Truly to see Baertschi and Backlund on a line together, or Baertschi and Cervenka…well the combinations go on but needless to say he brings a level of skill that has been SORELY lacking.

    Finally he’s not a Sutter’esque pick and I was getting tired of the 3rd and 4th liners.

    BTW – I’m happy to see the Jolly Rancher doing so well in LA. I always did like him as a coach.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Sven. 5’10” 185. Nate Wells says ” risk of being a 1st round bust is high”.
    Dan Shrader says ” size aside, his skating can improve”. One scout said if he stops going to the middle of the ice he is useless. If he makes the flames I guess that is a sad indictment of their forward depth. At least a lotto pick next year is on the way:)

    • “If he stops going to the middle of the ice he is useless” is a useless observation, quite frankly. “If this player stops doing the things that make him successful, he won’t be successful.” Thanks Mr. Scout.

      Also, Jeff Skinner was 5’10”, 182 in his draft year. Skating and strength were the two major knocks against him.

      And there are very few teams who wouldn’t promote Baertschi to the bigs after tearing junior apart in the fashion he did this year. So I don’t consider it an indictment of the Flames depth if he makes the club.

      Now, if Akim Aliu makes the team on the other hand…

  • supra steve

    Rattie may turn out to be a great NHL player, time will tell. But when I hear others post the idea of bringing him to Calgary, I always think of when the Flames brought in Hnat Domenichelli in Iggy’s early years. Hnat had played with Iggy in Kamloops and the hope was that their chemistry would re-ignite in Calgary. Didn’t happen. Guess what I’m trying to say is that Sven + Rattie in the NHL may not be Magic like they were together in the WHL. I have a feeling that if the Flames were to trade for Rattie now, they would be buying at the top of the market, and would thus overpay. But what the heck do I know.

  • supra steve


    Did we know exactly what we had when the Flames landed Iggy?…No, at least I didn’t. But, having given Joe Nieuwendyk to land him, a lot of us were looking foreward to seeing Iggy in Flame colors. Just as (years before) I looked foreward to seeing Nieuwendyk, knowing the skilled player (Nilson) they had given up to land him (or at least the draft pick that they took him with) Also looked foreward to Trevor Kidd:(. HONEST.

  • I think it was fair to say we were all interested in what Jarome would bring at the time, but I don’t think anyone was really thinking he was going to be a 50 goal scoring, Hart trophy candidate type of guy.

    Oh, Trevor Kidd, me too. Sad Trombone.

  • Graham

    lol, I’m pretty sure the Flames can turn this kid into another defensive minded third liner.
    Just give them time, they can make him forget that he ever scored goals…

  • Graham

    I don’t know who has it worse. Sven attempt to live up to expectations. Or our next 1st rounder trying to clear the bar.

    Cervenka, Sven, and the possibility of real change are the three reasons I am excited about next season.

    Now I just need to enter into perennial off season optimism alternated with perennial hockey season overreaction and I will be doing my best impression of a Toronto fan.

  • febreze

    I haven’t poked around enough yet but what’s the NHLE for goaltenders? I’m curious about Brossoit who’s good season has been overshadowed by Sven’s. Let’s hope the Memorial Cup is his coming out party although I feel dirty supporting anything to do with any team from Edmonton. I’m cheering for the long suffering host Cataractes.

  • T&A4Flames

    I believe that he’s the reason they aren’t rebuilding. They will some added scoring and have cap room to throw around still. Its a push for the playoffs… I don’t know how I feel about it, I’ll let the results he the judge

  • Ya that kid looks pretty darn great. Flames are pretty lucky to have a youngster like Baertchi.

    There always seems to be a 19 year ol who has a phenominal season in the Chl out od no where and open all eyes. The only difference i see is Baertchi is NHL ready and most others we’be seen like Reider, Kozun, st croix and even Rattie are not ready.

    He nack for finding open space is uncanny. He reminds me a lot of Taylor Hall when i watched him in the last year of gis memorial cup run.

    He won’t be a superstar in the nhl upfront… But he certainly will get there pretty damn fast.

  • Sven is looking like a stud, and Broissaut is looking like one hell of a keeper…funny how they went head to head in the WHL final…

    I’m hoping you Flames fans can now understand a taste of the excitement in Edmonton…

  • I’m gonna be pretty annoyed to see Sven on the 3rd line if Tanguay is around next year. Glencross will be on the second line, I don’t see them trading him.

    I would like to see Baertschi/Backs, Cervenka/Stemps (if they resign him).

    I wonder if we could trade Iggy for Semin but we have a glut of left wingers!

    I’m thinking if we don’t resign any of our UFA guys and resign backs and stempniak we can fill the rest of those spots with Aliu, Bouma, Horak, Reinhart, Ferland (maybe).

    • How many forward prospects are put into top 6 situations in their NHL rookie year when that is also the first year of pro? Not many.

      A few guys like Hopkins, Landeskog, Hall, and Eberle all did. Three from the same piss poor organization. All but Eberle high picks.

      Most get 15-minutes or less per night to start. That includes players like Smith, Schenn, Couturier, Johansen, Skinner, Grabner, Seguin, etc.

      I fully expect Baertschi to spend a lot of time on the third line with PP time and the occasional top 6 promotion thrown in as he earns it. And that is as it should be.

  • Graham

    @Artax: Why would trade Iggy to Wash. for Semin when yesterday Semin announced he was going to move on from Wash as an unrestricted free agent & test the market. We can get him for nothing other than an overpaid contract for too many years.