This far in our draft previews we've give you profiles on guys who could go top-six or fall to the end of the first round like Joel Armia and we've given you players many think are going well after the 15th pick like Tomas Jurco.
But we have not given you a preview of a player who draft circles agree would have to fall to reach 15. Consider Sven Bartschi the first of those.
Projected to be taken anywhere between 9-13 in this year's draft, Bartschi represents a player who the Rangers' scouting brass will certainly keep tabs on in case he starts to fall. While we won't be reviewing top players that have no chance of falling to the Rangers, Bartschi is a player who might fall, especially if some teams look at guys like Armia, Jurco and Zack Phillips early.
But, back to Bartschi. The high-scoring WHL left winger complied 34 goals, 51 assists and 85 points in 66 games. It was his first season in the WHL playing for the Portland WInterhawks. Bartschi also added 10 goals, 17 assist and 27 points in 21 playoff games. Those are pretty jaw-dropping numbers for a rookie in any league.
Known for his incredible on-ice vision, and quick hands around the net, Bartschi could be an offensive weapon the Rangers might be able to steal at 15 in this draft.
As usual, join me after the jump for more analysis and scouting reports.
NHL Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald
"Baertschi is a finesse player. He has very quick hands and is a deft puckhandler. His radar vision probably makes him the best in the WHL at distributing the puck."
Portland head coach Mike Johnston
"Quick, skilled, very fast type of player . . . I don't think anyone can stay on the ice as long as he does. We have to tell him to get off the ice 45 minutes after practice ends. He stays out there forever to work on his game. He works on inside-outside moves, quick shots and little foot movement."
Bartschi came into the season as a fairly unknown prospect, but quickly established himself as a high scorer for the Portland Winterhawks. Bartschi has excellent hands and goes to the traffic areas to create offense, and has excellent vision on the ice. There are question marks about his two-way play, however Bartschi only improved as the season went along, quickly creating a name for himself as an elite level winger in the Western Hockey League while being a major offensive contributor for the Hawks; continuing his solid play well into the WHL playoffs.
Strengths: Shifty, elusive skater- strong on his skates and good edgework to maintain his balance with a lower center of gravity. Elite shot; generates a lot of power on it despite his small stature, and it is a heavy wrist shot that is accurate and tough to stop because of his lightning release. A cold-hearted assassin when he has the puck on his stick in close- absolutely deadly between the hashmarks. Can also unload bombs from the outside- opponents have to respect him and take away his time and space as the rare shooter who can put it in the net from anywhere. Bärtschi's hockey sense is also a major strength- he reads the play well and consistently gets himself into scoring position. Underrated passer- he and Ty Rattieshowed off a lot of chemistry together with Rattie being more the set-up guy while Bärtschi finished a lot of the chances off. Smart, intelligent and disciplined player- uses his hockey sense and active stick to excel on the penalty kill. One of the nicest kids in the draft- a solid teammate with a real easy-to-like personality and who will be a good fit with any club because he is so low maintenance. Not quite leaderNino Niederreiter is, but brings a similar passion for hockey and got much better physically as the season went on- sets a good example for others to follow. Good worker who wants to be an NHL player and proved it by leaving his country and playing in the rougher, more physical WHL.
Weaknesses: Undersized; not a great deal of room to grow or fill out, but will need to add crucial pounds. Does not play a physical style and spent a lot of time on the perimeter during the WJC. To Bärtschi's credit, he recognized that he didn't play well for Switzerland and put in a more honest effort over the second half of the year in the WHL. Average skater. Gets where he needs to go, but lacks explosive drive, top-end speed and the ability to separate. His wheels would not be an issue at all if he was 6-1, but because he's only about 5-10, it's a point of discussion with scouts.
Alright, let's start rounding Bartschi out.
Everything you can't teach a prospect Bartschi is already fluent in. It astounded me that one NHL scout went on the record to say he is the "best in the WHL at distributing the puck." Especially with guys like, expected to be top-two pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the league as well.
But while you see most people fawning over his vision, it's his shot that really caught my attention. Bartschi, as noted above, has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice, which forces opponents to play him close. Although he's not an overly fast skater, he is elusive, and can move around defenses at will and either unload his quick shot or use his vision to find an open line mate.
His size will certainly be a talking point in NHL drafting war rooms, but for a prospect with such offensive gifts it will be overlooked if he ends up falling to the 15th slot.
I know we keep saying this, but you can never have too many playmakers in the system who can also score a bunch of goals. While it's not expected for him to fall to the 15, there are a group of solid defensemen available that some teams might think about grabbing early on (akin to what the Rangers did with Dylan McIlrath last) which might allow him to fall.
But if this kid ends up reaching the Rangers, even if Mark McNeill is on the board, we'll probably hear his name called.