A day full of shocking moves in the Calgary Flames organization took an interesting turn on Thursday afternoon, as Sven Baertschi was reassigned to the Abbotsford Heat.
Baertschi, a 21-year-old left winger from Switzerland, has been considered one of the Flames’ top prospects since the NHL club selected him 13th overall in the 2011 entry draft.
After a wildly productive junior career with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, he turned pro last season, and spent the bulk of the NHL lockout-marred campaign with the Heat. He was an electrifying presence most nights, racking up 10 goals and 16 assists in 32 games.
His transition to full-time NHL duty this fall hadn’t gone as smoothly as planned, though. In September, he was publicly criticized by Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke – the latter taking issue with the youngster’s lack of attention to detail and competitiveness in the defensive zone. When the regular season started, the offensive numbers were slow to materialize – Baertschi had just two goals and nine assists, along with a -4 rating, in 26 games, and was a healthy scratch on several occasions.
On Thursday morning, Burke fired Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod. Feaster was also the Heat’s GM, though Weisbrod and special assistant to the GM Craig Conroy handled most of the day-to-day hockey operations over the past couple of seasons.
Then in the afternoon, news broke that Baertschi had been demoted to Abbotsford, where he’ll join a first-place team chock-full of young offensive-minded forwards. Heat head coach Troy Ward will be tasked with upgrading the youngster’s two-way game.
The Heat face the Iowa Wild tonight in the second night of a back-to-back set (7 p.m., Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre). It’s not known at this point whether Baertschi will be available to play.
Sven Baertschi hammers a slap shot past Chicago Wolves goalie Eddie Lack during a game in Abbotsford last season. (Abbotsford Heat file photo)