Talented Calgary winger Sven Baertschi is ready for big things this season.
Sven Baertschi was very good last season in limited minutes for the Flames, producing 10 points in 20 games while averaging only 13:24 per contest. That ice time number will undoubtedly increase this season - Baertschi should be among the ice time leaders for Calgary forwards, and he will be an integral part of their offensive attack, both on the power play and at even strength. Let's take a look at a few more reasons why this talented young Swiss deserves your attention at the fantasy draft table.
Reason #1 - Talent
It's impossible to watch Baertschi play even once and not come away impressed with his overall package. He's a good skater, a heck of a talent with the puck on his stick, and a surprisingly gritty player, too. He isn't afraid to go to the tough areas to get goals and create offense, and that will allow him to thrive in what is going to be a very physical Pacific Division.
Baertschi led all Calgary skaters in points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time last season (2.14). Although his sample size of 224 minutes is/was small, his success is indicative of a player who was able to make a difference in a depth role.
Reason #2 - Rebuilding Flames
The Flames are rebuilding, and they will be more than willing to give ice time and responsibilities to young players - provided they prove to be up to task. Baertschi played about 13-14 minutes per night last season. If he comes to camp ready for a top line gig, he could be closer to the 18 or 19 minute mark this season for the Flames.
On paper, Baertschi's acceleration, vision, and playmaking ability should allow him to thrive alongside shoot-first players like Curtis Glencross and/or Mike Cammalleri. Assuming Baertschi can stay healthy this season (he battled injury in 2013), he should be a lock for 15-20 goals and 45-50 points at the very least.
Baertschi would still be in the NHL if he were on the Sharks or Blues or Kings, but he probably wouldn't have such a wide-open shot at top line minutes (at least not as a 20-year-old). Now it is up to him to make the most of the opportunity that will be in front of him this season.
And he's coming into camp with the right mindset (from the above NHL.com post):
"I learned that you've got to earn it," he said. "They're not going to give you everything, or anything, just because you're a first-round pick. No one cares. They're too busy. There's too much at stake.
"But I know I belong here. I think it helps that I finished the season strong."
Reason #3 - The WHL
Enjoy that video. Baertschi was one of the most exciting players to come through the WHL in quite some time. He left the league as an accomplished offensive talent, but almost as important, a player willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Baertschi is only 5-10 and 185 pounds, but he plays a physical, gritty game. And he learned that in the WHL, a league that prepares talented young forwards for hockey that isn't always speed and skill. Baerstchi had to learn to take hits, throw hits, skate and play through a lot of traffic, and be willing to take some punishment along the boards and in front of the net in the name of goals and offense.
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