From Kris Chucko to Matt Pelech to Greg Nemisz, the Calgary Flames have not had the most success with their first-round draft picks over the last decade.
In Sven Baertschi, they’re hoping that will change.
Baertschi was chosen 13th overall in 2011 after tearing up the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. Less than a year later, the Swiss winger had Flames fans chanting his name during a brief stint with the big club in which he scored three goals in five games.
But 2013 was more of a struggle, no thanks to a hip-flexor injury. The 20-year-old finished with just three goals in 20 games, and with one big lesson learned.
“I learned that you’ve got to earn it,” Baertschi said, per NHL.com. “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.”
Indeed he did, with all three of his goals, plus six assists, coming in his last seven games.
In a related story, Baertschi was one of just four Flames that general manager Jay Feaster said were untouchable at the trade deadline. The others were Curtis Glencross, Mark Giordano, and T.J. Brodie.
For Baertschi, his goals for next season start with a modest one: make the team.
“I’ve got to make sure I get my spot,” he said. “As a player, you never want to give up your spot. Last year, I got sent down. With that, I gave up a spot. I don’t want that to happen again.”
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