BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 26: Norman Hauner #10 of Germany tries to evade forward Sven Bartschi #15 of Switzerland during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Germany and Switzerland on December 26 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Sven Bartschi is a mystery. Not because he’s an "enigma" like Alex Kovalev or anything. Not because he's from Switzerland and as Zapp Brannigan advised, you can't trust neutral people. No, he’s a mystery because nobody knows where he’ll fall in the draft. I’ve heard everything from end of the 1st round to somewhere in the top five. Like all things in life, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but I’m hoping he gets drafted at a very specific spot: #13.
The (Fancy) Stats
Ranked at #7 among North American skaters by Central Scouting Services, Sven (or as I like to call him- SVEN) has the potential to last just past the top ten draftees, and that can only be a good thing.
One of the best predictors of a player’s ability and upside is their production at even strength. Power play points and time are nice, but simply put, it’s a player taking advantage of cushy circumstances. Not something to complain about, but when a majority of their points are coming on the PP, their stats are likely inflated a bit (see also: Schremp, Rob). So how does this relate to SVEN? Thanks to SBN sister blog The Copper & Blue, we know exactly what the top ESP/G were in each league, and more specifically in this case, the WHL.
So where does SVEN rank? Only at the very top, scoring 0.93 ESP/G. For two quick points of comparison on the meaning of this, the next best player in his draft year in the WHL was linemate Ty Rattie with 0.87 ESP/G. And how does top WHL prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fare? Awful: 063 (Incidentally, that’s the biggest reason I’m not sold on RNH as a top prospect). In fact, only three players in the entire CHL had better ESP/G production than SVEN: Ryan Strome (ranked just below SVEN by CSS at eight) in the OHL, and Zach Phillips and Jonathan Huberdeau of the slightly lesser QMJHL.
So clearly, SVEN has great ESP/G numbers, but what else does he have going for him? How about some consistency? As of February, SVEN was leading the WHL in least amount of zero point games among players having played at least 50 games with only 9 in 53 games played (Thanks again to C&B). How does that compare to the usual suspects (next closest and RNH)? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 59 games had 14 zero point games, which was also the second best.
Now there’s something to be said here about luck and SH%, but given the lack of quality statistics from the WHL and OHL, we have the take the raw boxcars for what they are, and SVEN’s are pretty great.
SVEN is solid for another reason too, one beyond the statistics: he’s already developed a two-way game.
A smart skater who can backcheck and is capable of actually, you know, scoring, SVEN projects to be NHL-ready a lot sooner than most, if only because his defensive game is more developed than most CHL prospects. That’s not to say he’ll step straight from the draft to the NHL, but I’d put him a year ahead on the development curve.
It helps that he’s also older for his draft class, having just missed the cut for last year’s, meaning that, while he’ll never be big (CSS lists him as 5’10" and 185 lbs), he’s a lot more physically developed. And at 5’10", 185 is a pretty solid weight.
And despite the fact that he’s "small" (something I take away as a positive, as it means he’s never relied on sheer size to compete like, say, Couturier), he’s not afraid to play physically- engage along the boards and take or give hits.
Personally, if I’m Jay Feaster and SVEN is available for the Flames to draft, I take him without a second thought. The question is- will that come up? Not if the GMs in front of the Flames are smart, but then again, how far did Cam Fowler fall and how good was his rookie season?