Sven Baertschi is one of those “top six or scratched” players. For all his skill and creativity, he’s neither big nor tough nor known for his checking prowess.
Which is to say, he’s not the kind of forward who can just be dropped down to the bottom six when he’s not scoring.
That’s why Baertschi is expected to be a healthy scratch when his Canucks host the Blues tonight. Despite some strong possession numbers, the 23-year-old winger has just one assist in four games, with no goals, while skating mostly on the second line with Bo Horvat and Radim Vrbata.
“I’ve always said that his step was probably the biggest step to make,” said Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins, who last year was able to start Horvat on the fourth line and this year will be able to do the same with big 19-year-old Jake Virtanen.
In fact, Baertschi’s situation is more similar to that of another young Canuck who isn’t exactly a fourth-line type. It’s been third-line center or press box for 19-year-old Jared McCann. Which is why there’s a good chance McCann will be returned to junior before his entry-level contract kicks in.
Baertschi is not expected to be sent to the AHL, as he requires waivers and the Canucks have already lost one player that way.
When he gets back into the lineup, however, he needs to produce.
“The main thing is I have to stay calm,” Baertschi told The Province, “and as soon as I get a chance again, I have to secure a spot.”