“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.