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Flames recall top junior prospect

Due to a rash of injuries, the Flames have recalled junior prospect Sven Baertschi, the club's...

Due to a rash of injuries, the Flames have recalled junior prospect Sven Baertschi, the club's first-round pick in 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency file photo)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:01 AM ET

CALGARY - Sven Baertschi knew something was up when he was summoned to Memorial Arena in Portland early Wednesday morning.

The Calgary Flames, though, were nowhere on his radar.

Little did he know, this would turn out to be one of the best days of his life. Once the high-scoring forward from Switzerland reached the Portland Winterhawks offices, he was told to pack his things for Calgary.

The 2011 first-round draft pick will make his NHL debut with the injury-depleted Flames Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets at the Saddledome as an emergency callup.

ďItís like a dream,Ē Baertschi said. ďItís like somebody telling you something so cool that you really canít say anything.

ďItís been crazy so far. But itís cool that a lot of people are excited for me.Ē

Certainly, the Flames didnít expect to have Baertschi in the lineup this season after sending him back to the WHL from training camp.

It would have taken a special set of circumstances to bring up a prospect back from junior, and thatís the best way to describe the last week for the Flames.

In the past three games, four forwards have gone down with injury. First, it was Blake Comeau, then Lance Bouma and Mike Cammalleri.

On Tuesday night, Tim Jackman was steamrolled by Alexei Emelin and left with an upper-body injury.

Cue the kid from Langenthal, Switzerland.

For how long is anybodyís guess, but all that matters now is Friday night against the Jets.

Getting throwing into the middle of an NHL playoff race isnít exactly how Baertschi pictured his first big-league outing, but he feels ready.

ďI donít think the speed will be a huge problem,Ē Baertschi said. ďI just have to make sure I donít walk into (Dustin) Byfuglien.

ďItís going to be a hard battle. I want to make sure I get a good practice in (Thursday) and make sure Iím prepared for the game.

ďItís going to be tough when you come from junior to just jump in. It would be way easier to start the season with the pro team and get used to it.Ē

When Comeau, Bouma and Cammalleri went down, the Flames recalled Guillaume Desbiens, Krys Kolanos and Greg Nemisz from the AHLís Abbotsford Heat.

The Flames could have simply gone and replaced Jackman with another grinder like Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond or Raitis Ivanans, but they need some offensive punch.

There isnít any on the Heat right now, and that team is in the midst of its own playoff push.

If Baertschi can seemlessly transfer his skills to the NHL, the Flames could get someone capable of putting up points.

In 47 games this season, Baertschi has 33 goals and 61 assists. Heís ninth in WHL scoring despite missing 19 games due to a concussion suffered at the world juniors that limited him to just two games.

The 19-year-old will wear No. 47 with the Flames because his preferred digits (27) are already taken by Derek Smith.

Heís not sure how many times he will play with the Flames, but he does know he will miss at least the Winterhawksí game Friday in Everett, Wash.

The Hawks are embroiled in a race for first place in the Western Conference, and Baertschi was wrapped up in that.

He didnít even think the Flames could call him even with all the injuries he was reading about.

ďI wasnít even thinking about it. I was so focused on Portland,Ē Baertschi said.

ďThe way we are playing right now, the most important thing for me was making sure we win our next game. We want to be first at the end of the season.

ďI was watching the news from Calgary, but I didnít think they would be recalling me. I didnít think I would have a chance this year. I was looking forward to next season and getting another chance at training camp.Ē


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