Baertschi buckling down
CALGARY, AB -- Last year, Sven Baertschi entered the Calgary Flames development camp as a wide-eyed youngster fresh off being drafted.
He was excited but the nerves were apparent during his first few days at camp as he dealt with learning the ropes and handling the media.
This year, Baertschi looked like a seasoned vet amongst his peers both on and off the ice.
While running through drills, Baertschi's development over the last year - which included a five-game stint in Calgary - was apparent. He was a step ahead of group, looking very poised with and without the puck.
When the media called upon him every day, he handled it like he's been conducting post-practice interviews for years. He gamely answered every question thrown at him, no matter how repetitive it must have been.
"I know what to expect," he grinned. "Last year taught me a lot. No surprises this year."
Last summer, Baertschi's only goal was to get acclimatized to the atmosphere and to use development camp as a stepping stone as he prepared for main camp in the fall. This year, he has loftier expectations.
"For me, the goal I set for myself is make sure I come into with a good attitude and make sure I make the team in the end."
After his cup of coffee in Calgary this season, it became clear Baertschi has what it takes to play at a very high level. He scored three goals in his five games with the Flames and didn't look out of place all during that span. His performance was so rock-solid that some questioned if he should have even been re-assigned to the WHL last fall.
However, Baertschi believes spending the past season with the Portland Winterhawks was absolutely crucial for his development.
"It was just perfect that they sent me back," he stated. "It helped a lot, a second season over there. We had a good team, we were really successful with that team the last two years. I think it helped me a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence and I played a lot."
Given how well he played for the Flames, Baertschi knows fans are expecting quite the showing from him in the fall but he isn't letting that pressure weigh him down. He is realistic about where he is in terms of his development and will be spending the rest of the summer preparing to make his push for a roster spot.
"I threw myself under a bus when I scored those goals," he laughed. "It's a little bit different now. I think people expect a lot more now from me.
"I'm still 19 and there are a lot of the things I have to work on ... I want to make sure I reach (the NHL) and try as hard as I can to finally get there."