Players to Watch – West Non-Playoff Teams

Rick Roos

2013-05-21

 SvenBaertschi

 

 Roos investigates players who will disappoint … or improve in the West next season

Welcome to Part 2 of my series about non-playoff teams, focusing on two players from each team – one who I think is a good bet to improve next season, and another who I feel will disappoint. In last week's column I tackled the Eastern Conference, so this week it's time for the West. For my "Final Verdict", I'll again go over some keys to identifying guys like these, plus talk about how this really all boils down to value versus expectations.

 

Calgary Flames

 

Improve – Sven Baertschi

Many might see 2012-13 as a disappointment for Baertschi, after he struggled with injuries and to get ice time, ending up with only ten points in 20 games in 13:24 TOI per contest. But while other "can't miss" guys like him might have regressed over the course of the season, Baertschi finished strong – with points in each of his final seven games (nine points total) and receiving more than 15:00 TOI in seven of his final ten games. What's also helpful for next season is many people probably felt burned by Baertschi's failure to break out in 2012-13, which means he probably won't be as highly touted this time around and therefore should cost less to draft or acquire. It's sort of like the situation (described in last week's column) with Matt Carle, except in this case it's a highly touted rookie that dipped below expectations but ended on a huge high note, instead of a major free agent signing who disappointed overall but ended the season red hot.

 

Disappoint = Lee Stempniak

It was hard to single out a Flame who will disappoint, as hopes for the team are so low that pretty much everyone is expecting most Calgary players to do poorly. But in the end I had to pick Stempniak, as even though next season is his last before becoming a UFA (so you'd expect him to do well), he's never once followed up a productive season with anything close to a similar output. Last season saw Stempniak score at a pace of .68 points per game, which projects to