In Vancouver, it’s all about finding the bright spots now.
That’s because the Canucks are on pace to finish with their worst record since 1998-99. Barring a miracle, they’ll miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.
But while GM Jim Benning has faced criticism for many of his moves — or, in the case of the most recent trade deadline, his complete lack of moves — it’s hard to say he screwed up by surrendering a second-round draft pick to get Sven Baertschi from the Calgary Flames.
Since joining the Canucks organization a year ago, the 23-year-old winger has slowly but surely become one of the team’s most reliable forwards.
“He’s not really the same player. He competes way harder now,” coach Willie Desjardins said last night.
“I always believed in him because I thought he liked the game and he had passion for the game. I think that’s really important. But now his passion’s even more. He wants the puck, he wants to make things happen, and he’s trying to make things happen every shift.”
Baertschi only has 14 goals in 61 games, so he still has a ways to go. But most of his goals have come in the second half of the season, as his ice time has gone up and he’s become a fixture on the power play. And, hey, on the offensively challenged Canucks, 14 goals is actually the third most on the team.
“There was a time when we were wondering if he was a fit for this team,” Desjardins said. “I think there’s some people who believed in him in the organization. It was a good thing they did.”
Related: Burke rips Baertschi