Then and Now: Oskars Bartulis

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In 2004, the Philadelphia Flyers handed the Tampa Bay Lightning a fifth-round pick and two sixth-round picks in the 2004 NHL Draft in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. The Bolts selected Brandon Elliott, Jan Zapletal, and Karri Ramo with the picks Philly made in the deal. The Orange and Black took defenseman Oskars Bartulis with the final pick in the third round.

The only Latvian player to date to play for the Flyers, Bartulis spent a season with the Moncton Wildcats and a season with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL before he played for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the 2007-2008 campaign. He took part in 57 games for the Phantoms and produced a goal with 20 helpers, which is still his highest total for a single season since reaching the AHL level. He was also plus-10, which was the only time he had a plus rating for either the Phantoms or Flyers in his time with the organization.

The following year Bartulis produced his highest totals for numbers of games in a single season and PIMs in a single season in his tenure with the Flyers’ organization, as he suited up for 80 games and registered 59 PIMs. He also potted a pair of goals recorded 11 assists to help the Phantoms reach the postseason. Unfortunately for Bartulis and company, the Phantoms were swept in the opening round by the eventual Calder Cup winners in the Hershey Bears.

The 2009-2010 campaign is when Bartulis got his first taste of the NHL. The blue liner did have a pair of goals and pair of assists in 12 games for Phantoms, as he also took part in 53 games for the Flyers.

His first game in the NHL was the Orange and Black’s 5-1 decision over the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center on November 12th, 2009. The d-man was plus-1 with one shot on net in 17:18 TOI.

Four games and eight days later, Bartulis recorded his first NHL point, as he had the secondary assists on a Claude Giroux’s goal in the second period of a Flyers’ 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

The Latvian’s lone goal as a Flyer came on March 25th, when he opened the scoring in what would turn out to be a 4-3 overtime loss for Philly against the Minnesota Wild.

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Bartulis totaled one goal and eight assists in 53 games for the Flyers in 2009-2010, as he also had 28 PIMs and a minus-12 rating.

Of the 23 games the Flyers played in during their 2010 postseason run, Bartulis took part in seven of them. After he had four PIMs in Game 1 and was minus-1 in Game 2 of Philly’s ECQF series against the New Jersey Devils, Bartulis didn’t see playing time again until Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He was minus-1 in 10:45 TOI in Game 2 of the Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Bartulis didn’t see more than 3:48 TOI in any of Games 3 through 6.

Aside from his performances in the 2010 postseason, a positive for Bartulis is the fact he represented his country in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The blue liner had two PIMs and a minus-3 rating in four games for Latvia, who failed to earn a medal.

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The 2010-2011 campaign didn’t make Bartulis feel any better about the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, as he played in just 17 games between the Flyers and Phantoms. He missed most of the season due to a late hit from Scottie Upshall.

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This was Bartulis’ final game as a Flyer, as he separated his shoulder and needed season-ending surgery. Upshall received a two-game suspension for the hit.

In his final 13 games with the Orange and Black, Bartulis failed to record a point, had four PIMs, and was minus-4. In his four games with Adirondack during 2010-2011, the blue liner had an assist, two PIMs, and a minus-4 rating.

Last season was Bartulis’ final year with the Flyers’ organization, as he suited up in 36 games and produced 10 helpers in an 11-point season. He also had 20 PIMs before the Flyers’ franchise bought out the defenseman in the summer of 2012.

Bartulis represented his country again in 2012, as he played for Latvia in the IIHF World Championship. Latvia won two games and lost their other five, as they failed to advance past the group stage. Bartulis had a goal and an assist in Latvia’s 5-0 win over Italy and also had a helper in a 5-2 loss to Russia.

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The defenseman spent this season in the KHL with Donbass Donetsk, the club that Ruslan Fedotenko played for during the lockout. Bartulis also played with Anton Babchuk during the lockout, as well as Erik Ersberg, Clay Wilson, Lukas Kaspar, and Randy Robitaille for the majority of the year. The blue liner had three tallies and four assists in 40 games, as well as 88 PIMs, which is the most PIMs for Bartulis in a single season throughout his entire hockey career.

Bartulis will play for Donbass Donetsk, who finished ninth in KHL’s Western Conference and missed the playoffs by a single point with a record of 17-21-7-7 (W-L-OTW-OTL), during the 2013-2014 campaign.