In a somewhat shocking move, the Hawks traded beloved forward Ryan Hartman. I say somewhat shocking because a part of me thought that he would get moved. I don’t think Stan Bowman was shopping Hartman at all, I don’t even think he was planning to trade him. But then Nashville offered their 2018 1st and 4th round picks, along with a 22 year old forward that is currently having a solid season in the Swedish Hockey League.
I don’t blame him for taking this deal. Even if Nashville wins the cup and has the 32nd pick in the upcoming draft, it’s still a good deal in my opinion. But hey, now we have another reason to root against Nashville! As if I needed another reason to dislike Trashville!
In all seriousness, I wish the best for Hartzy. He was one of my favorite players to watch on the Hawks. Unfortunately, his inconsistencies caught up with him. After last season, we thought that he would be a lock to play all 82 games and figure in to the top-6 on most nights. In reality, what we got was dumb penalties, healthy scratches, and a forward that was bouncing around the lineup. Not something we want from a former 1st round pick.
The skill plays that we saw flashes of last year were few and far between. That’s one of the main reasons that he was in and out of the lineup so much. Although he has made some jaw-dropping hits, and drawn a ton of penalties this year, he just wasn’t up to par with what Quennville and Bowman expected. Yes, his hit total and the amount of penalties he drew are something that every team needs, but there were too many negatives to his game.
Coach Q is a pro’s coach, he expects his players to be professionals on and off the ice. If they’re in a slump, he might move them around a bit, but he expects them to keep working hard and improving. The last 2 seasons we’ve learned quite a few things about Hartzy. He’s a tough guy. At 5’11”, he’s not the biggest, and not the fastest, but he’s tough as nails. Blocking shots, making hits, playing a tough gritty game, and getting to the dirty areas of the ice are what Hartman was known for. Those aspects of his game have been greatly missed in the 3 games since his departure. But those attributes can be found elsewhere in the organization.
Currently, the names of David Kampf, Vinnie Hinostroza, and John Hayden come to mind when I think about players similar to Hartman. Kampf plays a gritty game along the boards with the puck and can find the open space on the ice. Vinnie plays a fast-paced, two-way game that is fun to watch. And John Hayden has the toughness that teams are always looking for. With Vinnie, it took a little time before he finally found his game offensively. He was with Chicago for a little while last season, but couldn’t put many points on the board. When he started the season in Rockford, he was ready to prove himself. Scoring 22 points in the first 23 games of the Icehogs season, he knew he was ready for the next step, and so did Bowman.
That brings me to John Hayden, or as I like to think of him, young Eddie Vedder (Seriously, go look at pictures of Eddie Vedder when he was young and compare them to John Hayden. Freaky stuff!). Anyway, John Hayden has that same bite to his game that Hartman did, he just needs some time in Rockford to find his scoring ability just like Vinnie did. I think that if he spends the rest of the year with the Icehogs and continues to improve, he’s a lock for the 23-man roster next year.
If you look back at Hartman’s career with the Hawks, he only had one stand-out season. He scored 19 goals and had 12 assists last season, which in my opinion was an anomaly. In his 2 full seasons with Rockford, he never once scored more than 40 points.
Even though he is on pace to score more points this year than he did last year, much of that can be attributed to playing with Patrick Kane. We also can’t forget games #1 & #2 of this season. He scored a combined 6 points in those games. Almost 25% of his points with the Hawks this season came in the first 2 games. That means that he only scored 21 points in the other 59 games. And in those 59 games, he also had 58 penalty minutes. Though that is better than when he was in Rockford where he racked up 257 penalty minutes in only 139 games!
All in all, Hartzy will absolutely be missed, much like Andrew Shaw was. Hopefully the 1st round pick they got in return can ease the pain a little. Let’s not forget who we got for Shaw, Alex Debrincat and Chad Krys. Both of whom are going to be a big part of the Blackhawks Future. Moving forward, I like the direction that the Hawks are in. The young guys are getting experience, they racked up a few more picks in the upcoming draft, and the prospects are playing well right now. A good combination that should lead to future success.