Bartulis came to Moncton from Latvia as a converted center, having played forward during parts of the previous season with CSKA Moscow in Russia 2. Knowing this, it is not surprising that Bartulis has good puck skills.
2005-06: Bartulis was originally expected to be counted upon as one of the team’s go-to defensemen this season, but his load was considerably lightened by the acquisitions of top QMJHL rearguards Luc Bourdon (VAN) and Keith Yandle (PHX). Such moves took a good deal of pressure off of Bartulis, but also arguably curtailed his development a bit. Bartulis still finished the season ranked fourth among Moncton defensemen and 12th overall in scoring on a team loaded with talent, having recorded 31 points (6 goals, 25 assists) a +16 rating and 84 PIMs in 54 games.
The only tangible damper on Bartulis’ season to this point came during his participation with Team Latvia at the World Junior Championships in January. There he suffered a broken finger in the third game of tournament, and was forced to pull out. He wound up missing five weeks of action for the Wildcats.
2006-07: Bartulis signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers shortly before the start of the 2006-07 campaign. It would be the kicker to a very busy offseason, which had previously seen the Latvian native traded from the Moncton Wildcats to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. A brief adjustment period aside, Bartulis got off to a terrific start with his new team. In fact, he led Q in scoring among defensemen for a stretch, before a being sidelined due to a variety of injuries (including a sprained wrist and the lingering effects of a concussion). Upon his recovery, he would go on to reestablish himself by forming a very solid defensive pairing with Minnesota Wild draftee J.C. Sawyer.
Bartulis wound up finishing the campaign ranked second among defensemen on his team, with 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) in 55 games. He continued to make strides in all areas of his game, most notably displaying increased awareness in special teams situations and in his willingness to engage in physical play, when necessary.
2007-08: Bartulis made his professional debut with the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) on Oct. 5 vs. Norfolk. He scored his first professional goal and posted an assist in a 3-2 win vs. Binghamton of Dec. 28, earning the defenseman first star honors.
The Latvian is a good stick handler for a defenseman and has a good slap shot, particularly off a pass as a one-timer. Defensively he has very good instincts, and overall, his hockey sense is very appealing for his age. However, he does have some deficiencies. Bartulis needs to get much stronger to be able to contend with professional forwards more effectively. He participated in one pre-tournament World Championship game for Latvia but did not play in the tournament itself. Another complaint with Bartulis is he does not appear to play with much passion. If he gets stronger, and more aggressive, he will be a very effective pro defenseman.