Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 NHL Draft Prospects: Sven Bartschi

The 2011 draft now less than one month away, and the Rangers scouting and front office staff is looking through many prospects to see who they want to select with the 15th overall selection.  With the current state of the Rangers defense both at the NHL and prospect level one would expect that New York will look for offense in the first round of the draft hoping to find an impact scorer.  There are a number of offensive prospects that could be available at 15.  We have already looked at Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, and Joel Armia and their potential fits for the Rangers.
We kick off this week with a look at a supreme talent that is unlikely to be there when the Rangers pick at 15 in the form of Sven Bartschi from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.   Bartschi, much like fellow Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter did last season in Portland, established himself as an offensive force with his 34 goal, 51 assist output in 66 games this year.  He kept up his efforts during the playoffs with 10 goals and 16 assists in 20 playoff games.
The young left winger is slightly undersized at 5’10” and weighing 180 pounds, but that does not stop him from going to the dirty areas of the ice.  The best attribute for Bartschi is his hands which using for his tremendous shot and he pairs with excellent vision and a very good hockey IQ to be a force on the ice.
Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch’s:
Swiss forward and 34-goal scorer has a wicked shot (rapid release and powerful, accurate drive) and elite offensive instincts. He formed a highly effective trio with fellow draft candidate Rattie and Cunningham when the latter came over from Vancouver at mid-season. Not an explosive speedster, but knows how to get from point A to B. Played a more effective game in junior this season than he did at the WJC. Solid kid and easygoing personality, but could stand to pick up the work ethic at times. Highly skilled winger will likely be a top-15 pick, but he's a finesse guy who could stand to take the puck to the net more than he does. Bartschi is deadly with that drive of his, but it's tough to score from the outside consistently at the NHL level, no matter how much pop you have on your stick.
The Scouting Report (Ranked 12, midseason):
Bartschi has really come out of nowhere this season, but has quickly made a name for himself playing in the latest North American hotbed for Swiss prospects. Does a good job of going to the net and playing hard despite being undersized. Has a good touch around the net and has found a lot of chemistry with linemate Ty Rattie this season. Defensive zone play needs some improvement as Bartschi needs to be more aware of his responsibilities in zone.
Bartschi would be a gift for the Rangers if he was to fall to New York at 15, but I would look for the dynamic winger to be gone in the at the latest to Calgary with pick 13, and potentially sneaking into the latter end of the top 10 based not only on his season, but his playoff performance.

Rumor: Stephen Weiss "Plan B" If Rangers Fail On Richards

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
It is clear that New York Rangers GM Glen Sather has Brad Richards atop his offseason wish list, but with every plan there must be a backup in case the plan falls through.  According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post that fallback option could include 28-year-old center Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers.

Speaking of which: after watching Nathan Horton's breakout playoffs, who doesn't wonder who Stephen Weiss might play for if freed from the shackles of Sunrise, where the sun always sets on the hockey team?
Slats, perhaps, if Brad Richards can't be signed? 
The idea of trading for Weiss is one that I looked at back in February before the trade deadline and the point about Horton’s breakout during the Stanley Cup playoffs this year is an interesting addition to the case for Weiss.  Weiss is a slightly different case than Horton given him being older at the time of the move, but there is something to be said for playing with better talent around him and in more meaningful games.
Weiss is a quality NHL player who scored 21 goals and added 28 assists in 76 games this past season with the Panthers and their talent deficient lineup.  Weiss has experience as a top line player and facing the best competition of the opposition each night, along with having a very reasonable contract set to pay him $3.1 million per for the next two seasons.  His best attributes on the ice are his speed, vision and passing ability, but he is also able to score. It is tough to full gauge whether that is a result of the lack of overall talent in Florida or speaks to where Weiss actually is. 
Beyond his offensive capabilities, Weiss is excellent on faceoffs, wining 53.9% of his draws, which would be a considerable upgrade for the Blueshirts.  There are questions about whether Weiss is truly a number one type center on a contending team or better suited for a supporting role.  There is also his no-movement clause that could allow him to block any move and he has said in the past that he wants to be part of the solution there.
With the lack of talent on the Florida roster and the cheap contract for what Weiss brings them it means the price tag to acquire him could be high.