I was a first round pick and so everybody expects it right away, 'He's got to be on the team, he's got to turn this stuff around here'. - Sven Baertschi
CALGARY, AB -- There's an abundance of opportunity on this year's edition of the Calgary Flames.
And boy, does forward Sven Baertschi know something about opportunity.
After struggling through his first full-time crack in the National Hockey League in last year's work stoppage-shortened season, a wiser, more mature Baertschi is back in Calgary looking to make good on his second crack at his rookie season with the Flames.
"I was a first round pick and so everybody expects it right away, 'He's got to be on the team, he's got to turn this stuff around here'," Baertschi said. "One side, I think it's a great thing if people want me to do that and I want to do that. I want to have a big responsibility."
Baertschi had just one point in his first 10 games with the Flames last season, struggling to find the same offence he enjoyed when scoring three goals in five games as an emergency recall from the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks over 18 months ago.
The success Baertschi enjoyed in his audition didn't immediately translate for the first-year pro.
But an injury and subsequent demotion to the AHL's Abbotsford Heat helped straighten away Baertschi's game, who closed out the season in Calgary with nine points in seven games to finish with a respectable three goals and 10 points in 20 contests.
Once again, opportunity is available for Baertschi.
It comes at a cost -- more pressure.
"The one thing I tell myself every day is to not put too much pressure on myself but I want to have a good season, I want to have a great season. Having said that, if you're going to have a great season you have to put a little pressure on yourself."
The Flames could use a great year from their 2011 first round pick. With a younger roster, Calgary would greatly benefit from their Swiss forward blossoming into a star.
But, as Baertschi cautioned, it remains to be seen if he's ready for such responsibility.
"I'm not quite a leader yet," he said. "I've just got here. I barely made the team last year and I was only up for a few games and was sent down.
"I think I'm here to step up. This now is a big opportunity for me."