NAME: Oskars Bartulis
Regular Season Statistics: 53 Games Played – 1 Goal, 8 Assists, 9 Points. -12.
Analysis: The beginning of this season brought nothing but bright spots for Bartulis in a Flyers uniform. He looked composed for a rookie, and truly looked like he belonged at the NHL level and in a Flyers uniform. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with his play early on and apparently the Flyers’ brass were as well. Bartulis was given a three-year extension to the tune of a one-way contract on December 2, 2009. Because the deal was one-way, it meant that if, by some chance, the Orange and Black wanted to send Bartulis back down to the minors, he would have to clear NHL waivers first. Ironically, it was after that deal – after the Flyers basically handcuffed themselves to Bartulis – that the wheels came off for the young Latvian defenseman. His style of play changed from aggressive to lackluster, and his overall intensity dropped significantly. He frequently left many a Flyers fan shaking his or her head, and wondering, simply, “Why the hell did we just sign this guy to an NHL contract?” His point production wasn’t bad, but his play in the defensive zone was porous, and, unless you’re Mike Green, you cannot get away with offensive play as a defenseman to hide the fact that you’re a poor d-man.
Postseason Statistics: 7 Games Played – 0 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 Points. -1.
Analysis: Bartulis was a part of the ever-revolving door that took place on the Flyers’ blue-line this postseason. Between Bartulis, Ryan Parent, and Lukas Krajicek, the Flyers constantly were bringing in a different guy it seemed every three games or so to clog up the spot that seemingly couldn’t be clogged: that of the Flyers’ sixth defenseman. It clearly was their weakest point on the team, and that was evidenced by the fact that there was no set player there. Bartulis didn’t do much to help his cause, playing out of position severely in the New Jersey series, and being forced to watch the entire remainder of that first round matchup, as well as the Semi- and Conference Finals in a suit as a healthy scratch. When Ryan Parent completely fell apart in the Stanley Cup Final, Bartulis came back into play, but didn’t make all that much of a difference. He struggled to catch up to the speed of the series, and didn’t receive enough ice time to make some sort of bearing impact on the series. Overall, it’s safe to say his first career Stanley Cup Playoffs experience was a disaster, but, you live and you learn.
FINAL GRADE: C+
Reasoning: His regular season, for the most part, was good. Bartulis is still on the younger side, and clearly has a way to go in this game, but he did have his moments this year. With that being said, he also had plenty of moments many Flyers fans would likely like to forget. Still, he’s under an NHL contract in Philadelphia for the next couple years, so unless Paul Holmgren has some master plan to move away Bartulis, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet he’ll be a part of the six-man unit come October 7th in Pittsburgh for the season opener. Bartulis didn’t get much of an opportunity in the postseason – with that being said, that’s also a reasonable statement. Of course, it was the first playoff action in the NHL Bartulis had seen in his young career, and he clearly looked in way over his head. Despite the struggles this year, I’m personally excited about Oskars, and I think Peter Laviolette and his coaching staff will help him grow into a much better player next season.