Revisiting the Predators’ Ryan Hartman Trade

At the 2018 NHL trade deadline, all eyes were on the Chicago Blackhawks. A team around the NHL standings’ doldrums, the Blackhawks were focused on rebuilding their roster around the core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith. The Nashville Predators, on the other hand, were looking to bolster the depth of their lineup through a trade. They were the second-best team in the Western Conference at the time and third in the whole league. They looked poised to make another deep playoff push one year removed from their Stanley Cup Final miracle run.

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Before the eventual deal, David Poile had made some minor moves, sending Pontus Åberg to the Oilers for Mark Letestu and almost immediately shipping him off to Columbus for a 2018 fourth-round pick. The pick used that pick to draft Jáchym Kondelík, who has played pretty well in the NCAA for the University of Connecticut but has yet to make an NHL appearance.

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Poile made the final trade of the day with the Blackhawks. Chicago and Predators agreed to a deal that would send Ryan Hartman and a fifth-round pick to the Predators for two picks, a 2018 first-rounder and a 2018 fourth-rounder, and Victor Ejdsell. Seeing as 2018 is two years in the past and the Predators fan base has grown exponentially, I figured we could revisit this trade for both teams and see where the players are today along with their production.

Ryan Hartman

Hartman was never brought in to be a top-end scorer. He didn’t end up being one, but he contributed a fair amount to a bottom-six that needed it. In his time with the Preds, Hartman scored 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points. Those aren’t numbers that will knock your socks off, but they will get the job done. He also brought some much-needed grit to the Preds lineup. Hartman was willing to fight some of the biggest and strongest guys on the opposing team and was an integral part of the eventual Presidents Trophy win. The analytics further help his case.

Nashville Predators right wing Ryan Hartman (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)
Former Nashville Predators right wing Ryan Hartman (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

Nashville is notorious for ruining forward’s offensive production. This was the case for Hartman when he initially came to the Music City. However, after an entire training camp with the team and head coach–at the time–Peter Laviolette, he could get fully used to his role and the system. He vastly outperformed his expected numbers in the 64 games he played for the Predators in the 2018-19 season. His 3.8 offense Goals Above Replacement (Off) was the third-best of his career up to that point.

In contrast, his xOff was 0.6. Overall, his time in Nashville was a success. He totaled a 3.6 Goals Above Replacement (GAR) and a 2.7 expected Goals Above Replacement (xGAR) per Evolving-Hockey. Hartman produced grit, speed-oriented forechecking, good offense and average defense in a checking role, which was missing up to that point. 

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Hartman is no longer with the Preds after being dealt at the 2018-19 deadline to the Philadelphia Flyers for Wayne Simmonds. He played 17 games for the Predators, notching one goal and two assists for three points. He left for New Jersey in free agency, played 61 games for them, and accrued one assist in seven games before the season got shut down due to COVID-19. He is currently playing in Toronto for the Maple Leafs and was producing reasonably well until he went down with an injury. The conditional fourth-round pick that went to Philadelphia was flipped to Anaheim in the trade for Derek Grant. The selection ended up being Thimo Nickl, who put up a solid 39 points in 59 QMJHL games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2019-20.

Spencer Stastney

The fifth-round pick that came over to the Predators from the Blackhawks turned out to be Spencer Stastney. He most likely won’t be considered a steal any time soon. In 98 games since his draft, he has scored 35 points with only nine goals. Even before his draft, he was not known as a point-scoring defenseman. With the USNTDP he had 28 points in 79 games. His tournament play was not much better, with the most recent U20 World Juniors not going his way. He played five games, had only one shot on the net, and did not score a point next to highly-touted Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller. Below is a great defensive play to break up a two-on-one against Germany courtesy of On The Forecheck.

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While anything is possible, Stastney’s future in the NHL does not look very clear. He is not an offensively inclined defenseman that has struggled to produce thus far in his career. His skating is smooth, and he has a good defensive mind, but his inability to produce limits his chances of making the Predators roster. He could end up slotting in on the third pair as an AHL call-up. However, it is doubtful he makes a large enough impression to be a full-time NHLer.

Nicolas Beaudin

The 2018 first-round pick sent to the Blackhawks in this deal turned out to be 5-foot-11, 168-pound defenseman, Beaudin. The small but mobile defenseman in the QMJHL put up 12 goals and 57 assists for 69 points in 68 games in his draft year. The following season, he notched seven goals and 49 assists for 56 points in 53 games. In 2019-20 he played most of his games with the Rockford Icehogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. The only time he didn’t was one game with the Hawks on an injury-riddled back end. His production dipped during his time in the AHL, but he was still solid for a 20-year old defender one year removed from Juniors. 

Nicolas Beaudin Rockford Icehogs
Nicolas Beaudin, Rockford Icehogs (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Finally, Beaudin was called up to the NHL. He has not disappointed the Hawks front office or the fans thus far. In the 11 games he has played so far, he’s recorded two goals and three assists for five points. The young defenseman scored his first NHL goal off of a howitzer that ricocheted off the boards to the front of the net from defense partner Nikita Zadorov. He went to the open area, and the puck found him. The one area of his game that stands out is his sense of awareness in the offensive zone. He has the keen ability to jump up in the play at the perfect time and taking advantage of unaware defenders. With his solid skating and excellent passing and shot precision, the Hawks have a very bright future on their blueline.

Philipp Kurashev

The fourth-round pick sent to Chicago in the same year ended up being forward Philipp Kurashev. The 6-foot, 190-pound winger, hailing from Switzerland, was another player putting up over a point-per-game in juniors and leagues overseas in Switzerland. In his draft year, Kurashev put up 60 points in 59 games and followed it up with a 65 point performance in 59 games the subsequent year. Things only got better, as he led the 2018-19 Switzerland World Junior team in points with seven in seven games. In 2019-20, he played for the Icehogs and tallied 19 points in 36 games.

Philipp Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks
Philipp Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blackhawks injected some youth into their lineup with forwards Toews and Kirby Dach sidelined for extended periods. Kurashev was one of those injections, and he did not disappoint. In 22 of the Hawks’ 23 games, Kurashev notched five goals and four assists for nine points total. He is a very dynamic player who has proven to be precisely what the forward core needed after losing their captain and third overall pick in the 2019 draft. Even when he isn’t scoring, Kurashev shows off his fantastic mitts and upper-echelon offensive sense. He is an excellent passer that can thread the needle through almost any lane. With the way he is playing, a jump in production looks to be very likely.

Trade Review

All in all, this trade did not go well for the Preds. It is a move that most would consider one of David Poile’s worst during his tenure as Predators GM. The Preds ended up with a decent prospect but gave up a top defense prospect in Beaudin and a dynamic forward prospect with massive amounts of upside in Kurashev for a very brief stint with a depth forward. While Hartman did produce at a slightly above average level relative to his Nashville role, the package given up for him was too expensive. No matter the draft year, a first-round pick for a depth player like Hartman is too much. With every goal and every point, Kurashev and Beaudin are giving Poile nightmares.

Their contributions to the Hawks have fans looking forward to the future even more. These two guys also get the privilege of playing with and learning from the legendary Kane, who scored his 400th career goal in 2020-21. Both of them will most likely be critical contributors to the Blackhawks’ future and eventual return to the top of the Central Division and NHL overall. 

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