Expansion Draft: Baertschi or Granlund

Updated: December 8, 2016 at 11:00 am by Ryan Biech

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

With the Expansion Draft looming over this year’s trade deadline, it’s becoming a hot topic around the league. Who’s going to protect who being the most gabbed about element, naturally.

The dynamics are likely to change by the time we’ve made it to the draft, but that shouldn’t stop the discussion, dissection and preparation. It’s not like it’ll hurt to keep the three items in mind.

You need to have a plan for now and chart a course for the future. 

Unfortunately, the Canucks are duty-bound to surrender a player to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. They should strive, though, to minimize that impact. It’s looking likely at this stage Vancouver will lose Luca Sbisa. If they were to leave another, more intriguing piece exposed, maybe that gives Vegas reason for pause.

The Canucks will protect Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson because they have to. The Canucks have four remaining forward spots open to protect. Assuming they plan to protect Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen and Brandon Sutter, that leaves the Canucks with one spot open for Markus Granlund or Sven Baertschi.

Naturally, the Canucks could move Hansen between now and the expansion draft. They’ve shown a reluctance even to entertain the thought historically, though. Jason Botchford confirmed as much in Tuesday’s edition of the Provies, citing a Jim Benning quote where he makes clear his unwillingness to ask players to waive their no-trade protection. Which brings us to the one spot for two player quandary we’re in now with Granlund and Baertschi.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli suggested late last month the Canucks would protect Markus Granlund, and expose Baertschi. The full breakdown is below:

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 10.13.23 AM

Let’s dive into the two, and see what would be best.

Granlund played in a sheltered role for the Calgary Flames before the Canucks acquired him, whereas the Canucks put Baertschi in a position to succeed last season. But we still need to use their full track records to see how they have been trending. If we look at their points per 60 minutes over the last three seasons, Baertschi has outperformed Granlund.

P60

Baertschi had a slow start to his year last season, as he was figuring out how to adapt to the NHL game. But he still doubled Granlund’s production. Every year, Granlund has seen a higher average ice time per game compared to Baertschi. For example, Granlund is averaging around two more minutes per game more than Sven.

Part of that difference is PK time, but that P/60 above excludes that state of play from the equation. If you look at the WOWY’s for Granlund and Baerstchi, a common theme arises. Baertschi generally sees an improvement or small decrease in his team-mates Corsi for % when together, while Granlund sees a larger variance:

newplot

newplot(1)

Looking at the year over year CF%, with the exception of this year, Baertschi’s improved every year:

CF%

Baertschi Granlund
2013-14 44.30% 44%
2014-15 46.20% 41.20%
2015-16 46.80% 44.30%
2016-17 47.70% 49.50%

One could argue Baertschi’s more offensive than Granlund, who plays a two-way game. That’s worth accounting for when looking at production. It drives home how much more replaceable Granlund is, though.

Lastly, using a hero chart to create a snapshot of all the information:

Story 1

It’s clear that if Baertschi is exposed instead of Granlund, the risk of losing one of those forwards rises. If the Canucks protected Baertschi and expose Granlund, chances are Sbisa’s scooped up in the draft.

Sbisa is a serviceable defenceman who would help the Golden Knights reach the cap floor, but the attractiveness of Baertschi and his $1.85M cap hit may be too much to pass up. Whereas Granlund’s minuscule $0.900 cap hit could work in his favour of remaining with the organization.

If the Canucks are unwilling to ask Hansen to waive his NTC, it’s safe to assume that they don’t want to lose him for nothing in return.

As Seravalli suggested, I don’t know what noise Baertschi will need to make between now and the end of the season to change the scale. As it’s clear that if the Canucks are going to be able only to safeguard one of Baertschi or Granlund, the correct choice is to protect the Swiss winger over the Finnish centre.


P/60 & CF% information from stats.hockeyanalysis.com

WOWY and Usage charts/data from Corsica