First Round Targets: Sven Bartschi



The native of Langenthal Switzerland exploded onto the WHL scene as a rookie this year, scoring 34 goals and 85 points in just 66 games for the Portland Winterhawks. Although not the biggest winger at 5’10" and 185 pounds, Bartschi nevertheless finished fifteenth in the league scoring (one place ahead of Flames prospect Ryan Howse).

It should be noted that the Winterhawks were something of a juggernaut in the WHL this season, sporting a host of notable players in Ryan Johansen (4th overall in 2010), Nino Niederreiter (5th overall in 2010) and Ty Rattie (projected first rounder this year). Portland finished first in the Western Conference with 103 points as a result. Their 303 goals was good for second in the conference and their +76 goal differential was amongst the best in the league.

Portland was therefore a nice environment to put up points.This is reflected in the fact that despite his notable 85 point total and impressive PPG pace (1.28), Bartschi accounted for less than 30% of the team’s scoring in the 66 games in which he appeared. This suggests his totals are somewhat inflated by the quality of his club.

In addition, Bartschi is one of the older draft eligibles I’ve come across during my research this season. He was born on October 5th, 1992 making him only four months and one month younger than Johansen and Niederreiter respectively, both of whom were picked in the draft last year. Fellow potential first rounder Ty Rattie was born on February 5th, 1993, making him four months Bartschi’s junior. Other eligibles, like Joel Armia, are even further away than that (May 31, 1993). Age differences of a few months is fairly unimportant in adults and veteran players, but for kids playing against other kids in junior, it can have a much bigger impact. 

Those are some of the red flags surrounding Bartschi. On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore his high-end numbers and the fact that he managed 63 of his 85 points at even strength (74%). That’s an extremely high ratio which shows Bartschi wasn’t dependent on special teams for his scoring. Always a good sign.

He also comes with strong scouting reports, like this one from Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus:


Sven is a solid skater who can get to full speed very quickly and while his top speed is good and he has turned around several WHL defenders, he doesn’t consistently maintain an above-average level. His agility is good and he can really make people miss, be it from a standstill or while rushing the puck up the ice. Bartschi has very loose hands that allow him to make rapid moves with the puck and his while I grade his puck skills as above-average, he does flash ability beyond that. His wrist and slap shots are both desirable weapons, the latter of which flashes plus velocity and he can consistently score from beyond the crease area. His physical game is fringe but does show a notable work ethic along the walls but at the moment is nowhere near strong enough to be an effective physical pro.

In regards to his hockey IQ, Sven is regularly trusted with PK duties due to his good anticipation, positioning and stick work. Offensively, he has good vision with the puck, although there are times he tries to go beyond his means with the stick-handling. The skill set is there for him to be a scoring forward with most tools being above-average or around that if he can overcome the physical hurdle which at this point is below fringe level.


High hockey IQ and an impressive offensive skill-set are good tools to have and desirable qualities for an organization desperately looking for both. The only knock appears to be his strength level and physical play (which can be said about most prospects, of course) although that is somewhat more concerning given his relatively advanced age.

Bartschi is a guy who appears inside the top-10 rankings of both ISS and NHL Central scouting. The former has him as the 11th best overall prospect while CS places Bartschi 7th amongst NA skaters. Of the potentials in the Flamesnation poll at right, the only guy ranked higher by consensus scouting services is Mika Zabinejad. Of interest is the fact that CS has Bartschi one place ahead of Ryan Strome, a player who frequently appears in a lot of top-5 picks in mock drafts (ISS has Strome at 9th and redline report ranks him 4th).

Bartschi has arrows pointing in both directions, but the overall package seems strong. His ES scoring is especially noteworthy, although the real test for Bartschi’s abilities will come when some of his high-end teammates graduate and/or if he can handle the physical game at the next level. 

  • I continue to hope that Bartschi falls to the Flames. And, if he falls out of the top 10, someone’s getting a bargain.

    I’m not an NHL scout, but watching him at the prospects event at the ACC in January, I can add that his shootout skills were spectacular. The things he did with the puck were quite impressive and, at that point, and in those skills competitions, he stood out.

    • Really? I haven’t seen him in the top ten in any of the mock drafts that I’ve found. Most of the time he’s showing up between 15 and 20.

      I think I’d personally rather have Mark McNeill or Mika Zibanejad. You can never have too many big, talented centres.

      Bartschi’s a great player, but like Ty Rattie, he’s not a real big guy.

      When you have a chance to draft a kid that’s compared to Getzlaf (McNeill), or to Forsberg (Zibanejad), I think you have to take one of them over the smaller winger.

  • icedawg_42

    Very very good write up, can’t wait to see what you have for the other prosepcts.

    I still think he should be our number one target, he has all the tools to play a scoring game at the next level rather than our usuall straight to the third line mentallity. As for Strength and size, yeah he’s a little undersized and may be a bit older, but you gotta remember to that he is a first year European playing in the WHL, it takes a while to get up to the NA style of physicality.

    And for his numbers on a very highly skilled Portland team, the fact that three quarters of all his points came from even strength means he didn’t play a whole hell of a lot on the PP with last years first rounders, so I wouldn’t put his high points on his team mates.

      • icedawg_42

        Fowler fell for the same reason why I think Bartschi will fall to us, he plays on a REALLY REALLY talented team, everyone was knocking Fowler cause he played on a Memorial cup team that may be one of the most talented in History and now look, he’s only taken his game to the next level.

        Don’t really know what happened to Gormley but there was a big run on forwards there, and lots more teams are focusing on drafting forwards higher than D.

  • If we listen to statistical analysis, apparently the birthday thing IS somewhat important. Moreso if we compare Bartschi’s age to other people who were born earlier in 1992. Stats say that people who were born in the first quarter of 1992 or 1993 might have an advantage over their peers due to the cutoff being January 1.

    However, it seems Bartschi has still done well. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Flames draft him if he was available.

    My only thing – NO GOALIES! We have enough prospects, and Brent Krahn didn’t exactly work out so well…

  • wattree

    All I pray is that we were right about Sutter overruling the scouting department, and that they do know the difference between their butts and a hole in the ground.

  • icedawg_42

    Arik makes a very good point over on M+G about older players dominating junior hockey, more often than not because of size and experience, and sometimes overshadows how much true skill they really have – you see it all the time in the ‘dub, the 20’s are often power houses even if they were somewhat invisible in prior years. Not always the case, but it is common. I wondor if that’s the case here?

  • icedawg_42

    Couple of other points I’m interested in hearing your opinions on:

    1. if both are available, do you grab Bartschi or Armia

    2. I never hear you guys mention Vladislav Namestnikov – have you looked at this kid? do you see big holes in his game/value? I like the look of him. Still very skinny, but at 6’0″ he should fill out.

      • icedawg_42

        LOL…sometimes, I guess…uh, are you Darryl Sutter?

        The kid has also come out and said “It doesnt matter, im not going back to play in the KHL” – for what that’s worth.

        • SmellOfVictory

          Doesn’t matter what he says, Tim Erixon said he loved Calgary and looked forward to playing here at one point as well. The first time these Russian kids have to play in the AHL for 60-70 thousand a year they bolt for the 1-2 million dollars a year they are gonna get in Russia or more if they are big prospects.

          Look at both Stanley Cup finalists right now, between both teams there are ZERO Russians, there are some Chezchs and Belerussians I believe but no Russian Nationals. They are needed less and less to win and looking at recent trends its easy to see why. Why bother working hard, learning defense and playing a team game when they can go back to Russia have it easy if they are so naturally skilled and get paid big immediately with no rookie scale.

          I’m not trying to be a Sutter or a Don Cherry here, but if you have a choice between equally skilled guys from places like Finland, Sweden, Chezck, Swiss, Belarus and Russia, I’m taking the Russian last.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I believe he is pretty much fully integrated into NA society. Only spent 1 year in Russia. Also, his father played in the NHL and his uncle is Slava Kozlov. Could be a decent fit if Sven doesnt drop down.

  • Emir

    Awesome article Kent.

    I like the idea of picking him if we are lucky for him to fall to us. Plus I feel like we are weak on the wing for what’s coming up so he fills a need too there.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I can understand consternation regarding Russian players, but if they seem to be willing to play in NA (eg some of them have played junior here, etc) then it’s silly to be totally averse to them.

    • NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
      “Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game he’s very aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck and has the ability to beat defenders outside and cut back to the net. He has an excellent wrist shot that he can release with accuracy on the rush. “I find him most effective at center, but he is versatile enough to play a solid game on the wing, he’s very responsible defensively and is not afraid of getting involved and battling for pucks. He’ll take the body and take a hit to make a play.”

      The more I see and hear about him the more I like this Namestnikov

      • icedawg_42

        He’s worth looking at. His game gets compared (albeit at a theoretical level) to the ultimate hockey player Pavel Datsyuk. I fully understand that the “Russian Flight Risk” is an issue, but sooner or later one of these guys is going to stand up and make a point of proving that false.

  • The Russian trap is a scary thing to fall into. Lets look at one of the recent examples of Nikita Filatov. He decided he didn’t want to learn defense so he demanded he get sent back to Russia. This past season he did decide to stay with the AHL, but well see what happens this offseason.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Does it really matter who you guys are going to draft? You’ll turn them into the hardest third line checking forward. Look how you guys mis handled St. Louis, Savard, you even took Ramholt over Weber, and so on. Remember when you guys drafted Sunblad? Matesson? Fata? I’ve never seen in my life a team screw the draft as much as you guys. However if I were you guys I would take one of:

    Zack Phillips. Mark Mcniel, Ty Rattie, or or Joel Armia. You need help upfront.

    How is it my Nucks always draft after you guys and we can do a better job?

    • SmellOfVictory

      Daniel and Henrik Sedin were not drafted after the Flames; Kesler was drafted first round in 03 where it was almost impossible to screw up. That said, we’re all aware of the way the Flames have mishandled their prospects in many cases, and that their drafting is less than exemplary (there are teams that draft more poorly, however).

    • SmellOfVictory

      If I were you Canuckle head I would be more worried about your team screwing up the Stanley cup finals and not who the Flames are taking in the first round. How is the 11 million dollar goalie working out for you now??? Always the bridesmaid but will never be the bride…Nice GO Bruins GO

    • It’s not just drafting that we suck at though, it’s also developing our draft picks. Who’s to say that Ramholt couldn’t have been a good steady defensemen if he had been drafted by the Predators instead. That team is a machine at churning out defensive prospects, so who’s to say if he ended up there he would be playing in the NHL.

      I mean other than Giordano, we’ve done a **** job at developing prospects and we almost lost him as well.

      These guys toil away in the AHL and even when they get a chance in the NHL they run into a Keenan and get sat for an entire game, so yeah, developing our prospects our record is just as bad as our drafting seems to be.

      • It’s a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma. Dion Phaneuf is basically the only draft pick the Flames had under Sutter that advanced pretty rapidly into a high contributor. Of course, he sprung pretty much fully formed into the league and was a 9th overall pick, so that probably would have happened under any management regime.

        On the other hand, I can’t imagine anyone making anything of, say, Kris Chucko. The ceiling just isn’t there.

        • Yeah we saw guys like Chucko or say Nystroms ceiling(maybe Nystrom has a bit higher) Prust never reached his here. But yeah guys like Ryley Granthan or John Armstrong, those guys will never make the NHL, but the organization has long held they were almost there, but it wasn’t true.

          Looking at RamHolts stats, it looks like he’s had himself a last decent season, but who knows what the Swiss-A league is like.

          The thing with our Defensive prospects is we never ever see them, I think Pardy been good at times when healthy, but he always seems to suffer a season endin injury. But instead of using our own prospects and giving them a few games here and there we are always picking guys up off other teams waivers or wasting 3rd rounders on Steve Staois to fill in rather than a Pelech, Negrin or Baldwin and giving them a leigt 10-15 game run to see what they can do. But instead we bring them up a single game, a mistake happens and they get sent to the minors for the rest of the year and make another waiver pick up.

          • Emir

            Colin I think you make a valid point but also their is the shadow side to your argument. Say we bring guys up who plays 7-10 mins per night and that is pushing them past their limits. So they are in the 6-7 role spending every other night in the press box. So the question is where does the player develop faster, 6-7 role in the NHL or 1-2 role in the AHL? Max Pacioretty had no issue telling Montreal he wanted to be in the AHL since it was a better place for him than the press box.

            The Flames are doing the right thing with their prospects in having them take their time to develop right, the problem is that alot of our prospects just arent NHL calibre players. The Flames are trying to take the Detroit approach where they are in the AHL until the time is right. The problem with our model is that we don’t draft the way detroit does. Also the other issue is that we don’t draft enough in the high end, traded way too many early picks in the Sutterian era and the result is alot of long shot hopefuls (late round picks) for the NHL in the farm system. We do have NHL talent here and there and thats great, but just not enough of it to appease all of us arm chair gm’s (or real gm’s either.)

            Then there is the pre-Sutter time where it was even worse. We had those picks but couldn’t even do anything there. So while we can argue that our farm system is in bad shape, I think it is in better shape post Sutter than pre Sutter.

          • Emir

            At least Feaster is showing some sense by GAINING draft picks and not throwing them away in exchange for veterans.

            Too bad we had to lose Erixon, but who cares about him if he wants to play in stupid New York.

            I’ll be interested to see how Howse and Horak pan out though.

          • Emir

            Sitting in the press box in Pacioretty’s position and playing 10+ minutes a night is two different stories. I’d rather when a guy up here get injured or needs to be sat a game or two, we call up our own guys rather than waiver wire a guy or again waste a third on trading for a steve staois. I’d rather we at least figure if the guys we have are at the least capable of playing even 10 minutes a night at NHL speed.

            I don’t have a problem with letting our guys play the AHL and get top minutes and develop there(course there is a problem in Abbotsford to bring in journeymen AHLers as well rather than give the minutes to our prosepcts). The only thing is, if you are gonna let Baldwin/Pelech/Breen and all play 3-4 years in the AHL, at least give them an oppurtunity when there are injuries to play in the NHL rather than a steve Staois. You don’t know what you have sometimes unless you give a guy an oppurtunity.

            Also, Jim Playfair has accepted a job with the Coyotes, so we need a new head coach for abbotsford as well.

  • My hope is the Scouting department doesnt XXXX this up like they pretty much have the last. . . 15 drafts. The Flames really need to improve that department, both amateur and pro scouting. Button doesnt have the eye for talent, because next year my guess is the Flames may have a lottery pick.

    • Well most places are still saying “close” but its the same “close” as when Hartsburg was not officially hired yet either. Unless an absolutle curveball is thrown I expect an annoucnement on monday or so.

      Would be really sad to see him go, his Hulking out on the bench was really awesome.