Oskars Bartulis is a player that many NHL teams would like to have, not just on their roster, but playing against the opponents top players on any given night.
The Philadelphia Flyers know this and quickly signed the 24-year-old native of Latvia to a three-year contract extension on Dec. 2, 2009, just a month after making his NHL debut with the club.
"Oskars has developed nicely over the past two years and fits in nicely with our team,” said Holmgren on the day of his signing. “We are happy to have him under contract and are pleased to know he is part of our defensive group for the next several years."
The 2009-10 season no doubt was his breakthrough season.
After making his NHL debut, Bartulis played a key role in not only reaching the playoffs, but helping them get to the Stanley Cup Final.
Bartulis appeared in 53 regular season games as a rookie, posting nine points (1G,8A), while also appearing in seven postseasons games, including four games in the Stanley Cup Final (Games 2-5).
Another moment, perhaps even more special to the native of Ogre is playing for his home country Latvia in the 2010 Winter Olympics, one of two NHL players to be chosen for the team (Karlis Skrastins).
|Oskars Bartulis appeared in his first Winter Olympic Games last season for Team Latvia. He was one of four Flyers selected to play in the 2010 Olympics. |
“I liked all of it,” Bartulis said when it was all over. “It was the first time for me. It’s something special; that’s why it only happens once every four years. All of it for me was new.”
This season Bartulis part of a seven-man defensive corps that is considered the best in the entire NHL.
“That’s my situation right now, if somebody gets hurt I’m playing,” said Bartulis. “But of course you need to show you can play and be in this line up, so I need to prove myself and show I can play here.”
Bartulis has done just that.
Taking on additional minutes in the month-long absence of Chris Pronger
, He helped the Flyers to maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference and, for a small period of time, the entire NHL as the Flyers posted a 9-4-0 record.
“What’s impressive is the way that he works everyday,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “He’s got a positive attitude and he waits for his opportunity. To have a guy that can play at this level and be ready to go, I think it just adds more depth to our back end.”
Its that type of work ethic that ensures Bartulis will once again play an integral part of the Flyers stretch run and 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff drive.