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Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend WHL roundup: Bartschi helping ease loss of Niederreiter in Portland

Nino Niederreiter he's not, but Swiss forward Sven Bartschi is doing his best to make the Portland Winterhawks and their fans forget that their star winger from a year ago and the fifth overall pick in 2010 looks like he'll be seeing full-time NHL employment with the New York Islanders this season.

The small, but dynamic little forward had his first two-goal game (he also added an assist) in Portland's 6-2 win over Lethbridge on Sunday. That gives him six points in five games as a left winger. At 5-10, 177-pounds, he doesn't have the size or snarl to play Niederreiter's power game, but he can really scoot and has terrific hands. Bartschi is the 77th-ranked prospect in Red Line Report's September issue and could be on the rise if he can keep producing in the skilled, but physical WHL.

Bartschi is being overshadowed a bit right now by fellow 2011 draft-eligible Ty Rattie (who has three goals, eight points to lead Portland), but his six points are good enough for a tie in second place (with Toronto second-rounder Brad Ross) . Between Rattie and Bartschi, it looks as if Portland will once again be a destination du'jour for scouts this season after years of being largely ignored.

Vancouver's Marek Tvrdon is also off to a good start, with four goals in six games for the B.C Division-leading Giants (that's not saying much-- they're 3-3). The Slovak was one of the best players for his country in the international tournaments last year and has jumped off nicely under Don Hay in what is also another impressive import crop in the WHL (much like the OHL). Having a coach like Hay will only be good for a player like Tvrdon who certainly has the size and skill level, but who has been knocked for his uneven performance/compete levels. Hay won't let him off the hook with that kind of showing in Vancouver, so watch for this guy to move up the boards if he keeps producing.

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