Sven Baertschi

The end of Svensanity: Flames send Baertschi back to juniors

There is no joy in Calgary. Rookie phenom Sven Baertschi is headed back to junior hockey.

Baertschi was an emergency call-up and for five games he thrilled Flames fans, giving them a glimpse of what his future in Calgary will look like scoring three goals in his abbreviated time with the big club. Now that Lee Stempniak is healthy enough to play, however, Baertschi’s headed back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

Flames GM Jay Feaster explains why Baertschi has to go back from whence he came.

“The agreement between the CHL and the NHL is very clear regarding the conditions and circumstances under which a player from major junior may be recalled to his NHL team, as well as when he must be returned to his major junior club,” said Flames General Manager Jay Feaster.

Meanwhile the Flames are very much in the playoff race and Baertschi had a hand in helping that out. Now it’s up to Stempniak and Blake Comeau to make sure the Flames’ good fortunes continue or else Flames fans will be looking forward to next season for a few other reasons.

Minnesota sends prized rookie back to junior

Brett Bulmer

In a move that signals a different approach for how the club handles young prospects, the Minnesota Wild sent 19-year-old Brett Bulmer back to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League today. Bulmer had three assists in nine games this season with the Wild, averaging just over 11 minutes a night.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep a 19-year-old around an NHL team when he’s not playing regularly,” Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher told the Minnesota Star-Tribune (the Wild had scratched Bulmer for Saturday’s game against Detroit.) “He played really well for us in the last month and we believe it was a good learning experience for him, but at this point, the best thing for him in his long term development is to get back to playing junior hockey and playing a big role on his team there.”

Minnesota had been criticized in years past for rushing its draft picks to the NHL. Colton Gillies, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2007, joined the team as a 19-year-old but quickly fell out of favor with then-head coach Jacques Lemaire. Same thing with James Sheppard, the ninth overall selection from 2006 that jumped straight from junior to the NHL (and then jumped straight into Lemaire’s doghouse.) Gillies has spent most of his career in the AHL while Sheppard is now with the San Jose organization.

Bulmer’s return to Kelowna is much more in line with Minnesota’s current approach to draftees. The Wild’s last three first-rounders — Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips — are all currently playing with their respective European/junior teams while Charlie Coyle, who Minnesota acquired in the Brent Burns trade, is still at Boston University.

Staying or going: Which NHL rookies should stay in the NHL or go back to juniors?

Gabriel Landeskog
1 Comment

We’re approaching the nine-game mark for many NHL rookies with junior hockey eligibility and that means teams have potentially tough decisions to make soon. So who is staying in the NHL and who is going back to juniors or Europe? Here’s how we see it.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers:  STAYING

The Oilers are doing reasonably well and he’s had a lot to do with that. They let Taylor Hall stay under worse circumstances last season and while they tease that he might go back to juniors, he shouldn’t.

Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche:  STAYING

Landeskog has looked very good for Colorado so far and he’s even gotten Matt Duchene to look bad by comparison. He skates hard, he drives the net, he scores goals… And he’ll keep doing that all season.

Adam Larsson – New Jersey Devils:  STAYING

Larsson is seeing the most minutes on the blue line and playing like a veteran in all facets of the game. He came into the season as the most NHL-ready guy and he’s showing it. If the Devils send him back to Sweden, we’ll drown our sorrows in Swedish Fish.

Mika Zibanejad – Ottawa Senators:  GOING

Zibanejad had a great training camp for Ottawa and looked like he’d be a potentially great fit immediately. While the Sens are pulling out wins, Zibanejad isn’t a part of it. He’s playing just over 12 minutes a game and has one assist and even Sens fans would rather see the team get it right than hurry him. Let him go back to Europe and get better.

source: Getty ImagesSean Couturier – Philadelphia Flyers:  STAYING

Couturier has been a defensive stud forward for Philly and he hasn’t looked out of place at all with the Flyers. The points will come, but for now he’s helping Scott Hartnell look expendable in Philly. Plus sources are already saying he’s staying so… Yeah, that’s that.

Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets:  GOING

He’s averaging just over 10 minutes a game and while he got a healthy amount in Columbus’ game against Ottawa, he’s not learning or improving anything with the Jackets now. Send him back.

Erik Gudbranson – Florida Panthers: STAYING

Gudbranson has made his presence felt in Florida. He’s playing rough hockey, fighting guys that cross him, and his physicality is something the Panthers desperately need. He’s playing strong, let him stay.

source: Getty ImagesBrett Bulmer – Minnesota Wild:  STAYING

A cocky kid in Minnesota? There’s a team that needs a little attitude and Bulmer gives it. Hockey Wilderness raves about him and Bulmer has fit in seamlessly. He’s the perfect third/fourth line tough kid. No reason to send him back to Kelowna.

Brett Connolly – Tampa Bay Lightning: STAYING

Guy Boucher is giving Connolly every opportunity to make his mark with Tampa, and he’s doing well with that pressure. Boucher loves what he’s been able to do so far and there’s no reason to think they’ll send him back after all this glowing praise.

Devante Smith-Pelly – Anaheim Ducks: GOING

Smith-Pelly has done well as a 19 year-old kid in Anaheim on their third line, but the Ducks have J.F. Jacques back in the fold and Patrick Maroon floating around from Syracuse. His energy will be good in another year, but for now he should go back to Mississauga.