“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Calgary Flames, we pick… forward Sven Baertschi.
It’s been a roller coaster career for one-time Flames top prospect Sven Baertschi. When he came out of Portland in the WHL, he looked to be a can’t-miss offensive stud. His final season there in 2011-12 he put up 33 goals and 94 points in 47 games and looked ready to make the leap to the NHL in a big way.
It hasn’t gone quite as smoothly for the 21-year-old 2011 first-round pick. In each of the past two seasons he’s split time between Calgary and the AHL and hasn’t made the same impression he did in junior hockey in either location.
In 51 career games in the NHL, he’s scored eight goals and has 24 points. Add in the fact that Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke was critical of him last year and people might start thinking of Baertschi as a bust.
It’s not all gloom, however, as he showed signs of awakening in Abbotsford last season scoring 13 goals with 29 points in 41 games with the Heat. If ever there was an opportunity to seize control of his future in Calgary, it may be during training camp this September.
The Flames have a dearth of scoring talent outside of Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler. If Baertschi can apply what he may have learned in the AHL last season and make it work in the pros, the Flames rebuild will start looking a bit better.
At Baertschi’s age it’s tough to be so hard on him as he may just be a late-bloomer in evolving his game at the NHL level. If he can join Monahan, and possibly Johnny Gaudreau, as the “young guns” on the roster there’s no doubt the Flames’ climb out of the basement can go a bit faster.
If there’s one thing we know Calgary Flames president of hockey operations, and acting general manager, Brian Burke won’t do, it’s tiptoe around subjects.
Yesterday, Burke was asked what he asked about the state of the team heading into trade deadline day. As Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun shares, he was honest.
“I think we could use upgrades on forward and defense,” said Burke. “Other than that, I think we’re fine.”
Hopefully you can sense Burke’s sarcasm in there because he’s laying it on with the Flames being one of the worst teams in the NHL. But hey, at least the goaltending is OK then, right?
The Flames could be busy today as forward Mike Cammalleri figures to be traded and Burke says they’re in a good position at the deadline because they can take on other teams contracts because of where they’re at salary cap-wise.
According to CapGeek, the Flames have just over $10 million in cap space. Perhaps Calgary could be involved in helping broker a three-way deal to help things out. Of course, don’t expect Burke to help out of the goodness of his heart. The Flames rebuild needs some help and he won’t make a move just because he’s “supposed to.”
If there’s anything Team USA Director of Player Personnel Brian Burke isn’t afraid to do, it’s saying what he believes.
Burke, when talking about what he expects from Team USA in Sochi says he expects nothing but the best. Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com shares the story.
“I know we’re at the point that if we enter any tournament wearing a USA jersey we expect to win,” said Burke. “I think that’s where our program is now. Whether we go in as a favorites doesn’t matter to me. All I care about, and all our players and management care about, is that we expect to win and we plan to do that.”
Burke pulled a page out of Surly of The Seven Duffs playbook saying he only cares about Team USA. Getting concerned about what other teams can do is a losing battle since that can’t be controlled.
After seeing the United States get to the gold medal game twice in the past three Olympics, however, those expectations of winning aren’t out of line.