Sven Baertschi is having somewhat of a breakout season for the Abbotsford Heat, with 18 points from his past 13 games and a two point night in a 5-3 victory over the Rockford Ice Hogs on Saturday.
The two points extends his streak of hot form and brings Baertschi’s season total to 29 points from 39 games played.
This terrific form has seen Baertschi pick up American Hockey League Player of the Week honours, after a weekend which seen the Swiss left wing finish with a +7 rating and a total of 7 points across the two games.
With so much fanfare surrounding Baertschi’s selection at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, where the Calgary Flames would use pick 13 to select Baertschi from the Portland Winterhawks, it was always going to be intriguing to see the young wingers development for the Flames.
Baertschi burst onto the scene late in the 2011/12 National Hockey League season, playing five games and amassing three goals in the process. It was this form which sparked the excitement many fans had for the 2012/13 season, so much excitement it had the Saddledome crowd chanting Baertschi’s name.
A prized possession for the Flames following the 2011 draft, the road to the NHL hasn’t been smooth sailing for Baertschi who has spent more time playing in the AHL than in the NHL.
Most notably part of Baertschi’s downfall in the NHL was the defensive side to his game, struggling to work hard on the backcheck was a constant flaw as the winger adjusted to life in the NHL.
It would see the young Swiss yoyo between Abbotsford and Calgary from 2012 to 2014, while the yoyo nature of sport might affect sports stars in a negative way, Baertschi has embraced the challenge to better his game in the AHL.
Speaking recently to Heat TV, Baertschi spoke of his work ethic and maturity as he strives to return to the NHL.
“I think I am more mature, I have been working on a lot of things in my game,” Baertschi said.
“Especially my defensive game, I feel like it has been getting really good. That was one of the important things for me.
“I have got my offensive instincts that take over during a game, but there were things that I wanted to work on and needed to work on, so far it’s been getting better and I think I have gotten better as a whole hockey player.”
With only three games remaining in the 2013/14 NHL season for the Calgary Flames, a late call up for Baertschi doesn’t seem to be part of Hartley’s plans as they head to the Saddledome for two games and close out the season against the Canucks in Vancouver.
Seeing out the season with the Abbotsford Heat is the right move for Baertschi, while fans like to see high draft picks perform at the elite level in the NHL, sticking with the Heat for a Calder Cup run is more important for the Flames and for Baertschi’s development.
With the glimpse of talent Baertschi showed in March 2012, there is plenty more in store in the future for the Calgary Flames, with Baertschi still only at the tender age of 21.
And we all know how long we had to wait for Mikael Backlund to arrive.