June 28 2013 11:08AM
Or Sven Baertschi. Or Svenderson. Or Sven Butenchon. Or SVENNNNNNNNNNNNNNN. Or....
We're going with Sven.
Yes, hockey fans, Switzerland's greatest son, Sven Baertschi, falls in at number TWO on our Top 15 Prospects list, and maybe to some of you, it's a surprise that he's not number one. Granted, at this point you've probably done the math and figured out who number one IS, and it makes a bit more sense now.
But hey, I fully expect Sven to occupy the top spot on this list barring the Flames somehow drafting Nathan MacKinnon in but a few days time, so let's just talk about our adorable little friend and all his upside now, because hey, he's Sven, we love him, and I especially like talking about him.
It was a tale of two Sven's this past season, at least as far as his work playing with your Calgary Flames is concerned. Despite the fact that it made all the goddamned sense in the world, the Flames coaching staff opted not to put the Baertsch on a line with Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka, nor did they elect to put him on Mikael Backlund's wing all that often. There were glimpses of what these partnerships could have been, as well as any indication that there was an inkling of knowledge on how to utilize a player of Sven's pedigree, but such moments were fleeting. A dream never to be realized.
Instead, Sven floundered on the third and fourth lines for a good portion of his first real stint with the Flames, which wasn't even that bad at first, as he was matched up with Book Of Loob favourite Blair Jones, who eventually inexplicably found himself in the dog house, leading Baertschi to put up with goon minutes on the fourth line.
Needless to say, it did not go well. A hip flexor injury that caused him to miss 11 games, and a demotion back to Abbotsford (where Sven started the season thanks to greedy NHL owners and suffered a concussion that derailed a promising looking season) jilted the young prospect's confidence, but in reality, it was the breath of fresh air the Langenthal native needed.
in 32 games with the Heat in 2013, Sven notched 10 goals and 26 points, for an NHLE of roughly 29. That is pretty good, with the caveat being that NHLE does not really mean anything. Still, it's indicative of a guy with a good degree of offense on his stick, and it's why many early prognosticators thought Sven may have challenged for the Calder Trophy before the season began.
Hell, if they knew how to use him and he stayed healthy, maybe he would have.
After the worst day in history, the day Jarome Iginla was traded to Pittsburgh (I don't want to talk about it), Sven was recalled to take his rightful place on the throne as "Face Of The Flames", and boy howdy, did he ever demonstrate that it's probably going to be his seat going forward.
Sven finished off the season on a 7 game point streak, in which he registered 3 goals and 9 points over that span. Small sample size, for sure, but he demonstrated some of the flash and nose for the net Flames fans were hopeful they were getting when Jay Feaster drafted him 13th overall in 2011.
His underlying numbers look only okay, but when you consider how abysmally the season started for him, the fact that he managed to regulate the entire thing with his late season run is really pretty spectacular.
Whether this is something he can do more consistently as time goes on remains to be seen, but there's every reason to believe he's got the entire toolbox to do it if he can stay healthy.
Get excited, Flames fans (EL KABONG!)
Sven is a special kid, with what could promise to be elite level talent if he ever learns to harness his potential (like Spider-man, or something!)
It's too early to tell if he'll be the focal point of the team's rebuild and any impoending success as the years go by, or if he'll be a VERY GOOD complement to an elite level talent that falls into the Flames laps one way or another (Hello, Connor McDavid), but it's a safe bet to assume that Sven is a very important cog in the Flames machine, and he's going to have to be good if the path out of the basement is going to be successful.
Given that he's one of many unproven youngsters sure to be given a chance to thrive on the Flames next season, it's probable that he'll take a big step in his development, helping ensure he can reach that horizon. It should be fun to watch.
At this point, we're all just really happy that he's already outperformed Greg Nemisz.