It’s time for the third member of the top line to receive his final report card of the season. He’s the center no one expected to fit in on that line but did and had a spectacular season. That player was Ryan Hartman, as he impressed many people with his goal scoring and speed. He played in all 82 games for the Minnesota Wild and put up 34 goals and 31 assists for 65 points.
Hartman finished fourth on the team in points right behind his linemates Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. He was second amongst Wild players for goals scored and one of three players to score over 30 goals. He was also the only center that could figure out how to play on a line between Kaprizov and Zuccarello, which is quite a feat in itself.
Hartman Steps Up
Hartman had to be one of, if not the biggest surprise on the Wild’s roster this season. He came at a bargain price in his first two seasons with the Wild as he signed a two-year $3.8 million contract, however, just over a year ago he signed his most recent one. It was quite the bargain too, as he signed a three-year, $5.1 million deal. Looking closer at the numbers, it seems like they got him at a steal and it was lucky they signed him when they did.
In his first two seasons, he averaged right around 20 points per season, and then in 2021-22, he tripled those numbers and definitely earned his money. He also nearly tripled his shots on goal for the season, plus there were times when he had five or more shots on net; there was even one time he had 10.
Hartman tied for first in one category which was game-winning goals. He had seven of them over the season, tied with Kevin Fiala. He wasn’t as successful as his linemates on the power play, but they were usually paired with Joel Eriksson Ek on the top unit. As a result, he didn’t get much time with the man advantage. Among the other categories, he was in the top five for penalty minutes as he spent a total of 95 minutes in the box.
Hartman’s Average Postseason
While tying for second place on the team with five points in the postseason doesn’t seem horrible, his numbers were expected to be slightly better. Hartman scored zero goals and all of his points were assists and he even dropped his penalties with just one minor out of the six games played. Besides his penalty minutes, he lowered his hit totals from 72 during the regular season to just four during the playoffs.
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It wasn’t a horrible thing that he dropped his physicality a bit but there were times the Wild could’ve used a little bit of that to boost morale when they took on the St. Louis Blues. Especially his hits, as they were clean, hard, and brought out a lot of energy from the fans and team alike. The surprising lack of effort from the majority of the team will be a storyline for quite some time, but Hartman was somewhere in between. He had good performances, but it could’ve been better and he couldn’t find that extra step when his team really needed it.
Hartman’s Final Grade
Hartman had an incredible regular season as he contributed a lot of offense from the top line. Without him, that line wouldn’t have gelled as well as it did. Despite the fact that many times he was left out of the passing game that Kaprizov and Zuccarello would often play, nothing intentional, they just got so absorbed in their game they forgot about everyone else on the ice.
Hartman dealt with it extremely well and just went along with it, no complaints, just great play. He knew that was how they play and just waited for his turn, and when he got the puck he took the time to either shoot or make a great pass. All of that went into his final grade but so did his postseason struggles. His performance wasn’t nearly as difficult to stomach as some of his teammates but still should’ve been better.
With all that being said, his final grade will be an A, which is slightly higher than his teammate’s A-‘s but not quite an A+ because there were still things to improve on, as is always the case. While his linemates struggled with passing first and shooting second, he almost always shot first which was great for the Wild and partially why he ended up with a better grade than the others.
Hartman’s grade was also affected by his struggles in the playoffs, but if they can secure a spot next season, he’ll be able to try again. Thankfully, the Wild have him locked up for the next two seasons at a great price. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve his numbers even more and show what he’s truly capable of because he has a lot more potential than what everyone saw in 2021-22. He showed that he was a capable goal scorer that could help secure wins for his team. They’ll need that as much as possible next season.