Since last year’s draft, it’s been a series of highs and lows for Sven Baertschi. The lows, thankfully, weren’t particularly low – Baertschi missed several games due to injury and failed to make a huge impact at the World Juniors in Calgary.
However, the rest of Baertschi’s season was rather impressive. He racked up a stellar 94 points in just 47 games and added 34 points in 22 playoff games as he lead the Portland Winterhawks to their second consecutive berth in the WHL finals. He also was summoned to Calgary on an emergency recall when the Flames were riddled with injuries and, despite being the youngest player on the club, scored three goals in five games.
Poised to (hopefully) make the jump to the Calgary Flames full-time in next season, Baertschi spoke with FlamesNation’s Ryan Pike last week at development camp.
Ryan Pike: How did your last season go?
Sven Baertschi: Well. It went well. It was really good. A good run again in Portland. We were really close. It’s tough that we didn’t make it, but that chance was there again and we just didn’t use it and it’s tough in the end to go off the ice as a loser. Especially in the finals, to go through it twice.
It was great for Portland. They didn’t have that many people coming to the games. They didn’t have the players they had over the past three years, so it’s been a big improvement there and I was really proud of the team for the whole season.
RP: Given that you’re likely turning pro next season, what do you take away from your time in Portland?
SB: The whole thing was a good experience for me… It was just a huge learning process for me. Getting used to North American hockey, getting used to learning a new language, getting used to living somewhere else – almost by yourself, your family’s not with you. It went well for me, personally, and if I didn’t come over, I probably wouldn’t have been drafted that high and be here in Calgary. I mean, to go to Portland, I say it all the time, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in hockey. I don’t regret anything there. In the end, to have the chance twice, in the end it’s tough, but the chance was there so I shouldn’t be too sad about it.
RP: You’re one of the lucky junior players to have had a chance to test yourself at the NHL level before turning pro full-time. Based on your time up in Calgary, what do you feel you need to work on to be a full-time NHL player?
SB: I’ve got to work on everything. It’s not that there’s just certain things I want to work on, the whole package needs to be like that. I want to be sure I can keep playing the same way I’ve played…I want to make sure I get better in everything I do on the ice, so I make sure I get stronger in the summer, I make sure I work on my skills during the summer. The whole thing is to make sure I’m ready when it starts, the camp and everything.
RP: Did anybody give you any advice when you were in Calgary about making the jump to the NHL or any challenges they had to overcome?
SB: I talked a lot to Jarome [Iginla] and he helped me a lot and everything. It’s just keep working hard and you’re going to be here one day and just keep going. He was a huge help for me. He gave me a lot of confidence and I just got to do what he told me. He’s won everything there is in hockey, so I believe in him.
RP: Do you have any plans for the rest of your summer?
SB: Well, you know, I’m working out at home, going back to Switzerland and I want to spend as much time as I can with my family. I had a pretty short summer last summer because of combine and the draft and everything. It’s been a little more now and it’s been good. I love my trainer at home, he really takes care of me, makes sure I work hard, makes sure that I eat the right things and everything. It’s been really good, so I want to keep doing that and so far it’s worked out well.