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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers should explore acquiring Sven Baertschi

Sven Baertschi cleared waivers on Monday. Baertschi clearing isn’t surprising. The 27-year old winger has a $3.366-million cap hit, another year on his contract after this one, and injuries held him to just 26 games last year. Baertschi has two points in six games with Vancouver this season, with most of the season spent with Utica in the American Hockey League.

Before 2018-19, Baertschi was a productive middle-line winger. He scored at least 14 goals and 28-35 points the three previous years. Even with his injury issues, he still has 16 points in his last 32 games with the Canucks. Baertschi looks like a useful NHL player, albeit one with a pricey contract.

No team was going to claim Baertschi and help Vancouver get out of a contract they’ve deemed undesirable. Teams can either offer their own ‘problem’ contract or receive an asset for taking Baertschi’s contract instead.

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Sven Baertschi 5v5 Points 2015-19
Season 5v5 Points EDM F Rank
2015-16 19 7
2016-17 28 5
2017-18 19 7
2018-19 7 13

Baertschi’s been a productive five-on-five player in his career. The Oilers could use a guy who scores like Baertschi. I’ve included Baertschi’s five-on-five points and where he’d rank on previous Oilers teams. He would have been one of their better five-on-five producers and he’s spent a lot of time with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, so playing with one of Edmonton’s higher-end centers shouldn’t be a problem.

The Oilers and Canucks hooked up to complete one of these kinds of deals last season. Sam Gagner and Ryan Spooner were both overpaid players neither team wanted and made relatively similar money. Gagner’s had 18 points in 42 games since returning to Edmonton. Spooner’s spent most of 2019-20 with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL.

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The Oilers can’t and shouldn’t take Baertschi on without swapping another contract. Gagner or Brandon Manning would qualify had they had another year on their contracts.

Holland does have a defenceman on his third pairing making $4-million with another year on his deal. Maybe Kris Russell is of interest to the Canucks and the Oilers could retain to split the difference in salaries. Russell somehow has a no-trade clause, thanks Chiarelli, but must submit 10 teams he would accept a trade to and Vancouver isn’t too far of a destination. Replacing Russell on the third pair wouldn’t be a problem with Caleb Jones and other players in the fold.

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Alex Chiasson could be another candidate. Chiasson $2.15-million cap hit is a lot cheaper than Baertschi’s $3.37 million, but the Canucks could retain and split the difference. Chiasson kills penalties and has remained healthier than Baertschi last few years. Baertschi doesn’t penalty kill, but skates and producers five-on-five better.

Baertschi’s tearing up the AHL with Utica. He has 23 points in 16 games, including 19 assists. Considering his AHL production and age, Baertschi’s a good gamble to bounce back to a 15-goal 35-point NHL player. The Canucks under Jim Benning haven’t been the best judge of talent either.

The Oilers need forward help. They can’t afford to be too picky and Baertschi is exactly the kind of buy-low player they should be investigating.