Ryan Hartman was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Nashville Predators on February 26, 2018. Hartman and the Predators traveled to Winnipeg the next day, where he was inserted on the third line with forwards Austin Watson and Colton Sissons. In the last minute of regulation, Hartman touched a Roman Josi shot-pass past Connor Hellebuyck, helping the Predators defeat the Jets. He tacked on two more goals and three more assists before the playoffs, then grabbed three more points in the postseason.

Preceding the 2017-2018 campaign, Hartman was awarded a one year, $875,000 contract. He has acted as the Predators’ utility player this year; he started on the fourth line the first game of the year, filled in for Kevin Fiala in the early stages of the season, paired with Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino for most of Watson’s suspension, and now resides on the first line with Ryan Johansen and Fiala since Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg will be out until after Christmas (bah humbug).

Some Stats For You

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Hartman has seen action on all four lines, and picked up 13 points in the process. Third on the team in goals, Hartman has found the back of the net nine times in 35 games, and is pacing for 21 goals this year. Hartman last assisted Miikka Salomaki’s empty net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning back on November 1st. Since then, lighting the lamp is where his production has come from- six goals and counting. 

Since placed in Forsberg’s spot, the make-shift top line has put together ten points. It’s benefitted Hartman the most, considering his shot totals have increased immensely. In eight games, 43 shots has turned into 70 shots.

The fiesty right winger is 6th on the team in shooting percentage with a solid 12.9% success rate. If one were to subtract the injured forwards and Austin Watson (who’s only played in 18 games this year), he would be third only to Calle Jarnkrok and Kyle Turris.

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Hartman is owning his Western Conference rivals this year, seeing how all nine of his goals are either against Pacific or Central Division opponents. Those numbers rival Nashville’s leading goal scorer, Filip Forsberg, who also has netted nine goals against Western Conference foes.

Because of his improvements, Hartman is averaging 14:46 minutes on the ice this year. That’s over a minute and a half more than his TOI career average.

Compare and Contrast Time!

If one were to compare Hartman to Craig Smith (who has scored one more goal than him), the differences in their roles are quite obvious. Smith, the primary second line right winger, has seen 102 minutes on the power play, and starts 74.32% of his face-offs in the offensive zone. On the other hand, Hartman has mustered up 15.5 minutes of power play time, and starts only 50% of his face-offs in the offensive zone. 

With that being said, Hartman is merely a goal and three assists away from being equally as offensively productive as one of the major components to the Predators’ offense (at least speaking in traditional production terms).

There isn’t too big of a drop-off when one looks at both skaters in a deeper, more analytical perspective either. Smith has created 69 individual scoring chances, 32 of those being high danger chances. Hartman has created 67 individual scoring chances, including 28 high danger chances. On the ice, Hartman’s Corsi For percentage is 54.01%, while Smith’s is 54.74%. As a matter of fact, these small differences between the two can be seen with nearly every stat.

Ever since Hartman joined the first line, his scoring chances, power play minutes, CF percentages, and offensive start percentages have risen at a steady rate.

If I were to sum up this edition of “Compare and Contrast Time!”, I’d say Hartman and Smith have played (relatively) similar in terms of production despite their different roles. Smith is supposed to shoot and score- that’s his job. Hartman’s job varies; it simply depends on which line he’s on.

There are more differences in Smith and Hartman, but #38 brings another element to the team.

Intangibles

Hartman likes to rattle cages and mix things up more than anything, and because of this, he’s the most penalized player on the Predators. He’s racked up 27 minutes in the box already, which include eleven minors and one five minute major for fighting. The biggest reason he’s been penalized originates from his simplistic yet agitative nature- that can be confusing if you don’t know what I mean, so allow me to clarify.

He served two minutes in Nashville’s 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks along with Ducks defenseman Josh Manson. A second period scrum in front of the net brought Hartman and Manson together. Hartman faked a glove drop, but ultimately did nothing but taunt Manson; Manson violently slung him to the ground, repeatedly pushed him into the ice when he attempted to get up, and eventually ended up on top of Hartman. Needless to say, Hartman had the biggest smile on his face during Manson’s fit, and therefore, was rewarded the same penalty as Manson. 

There have been multiple cases this year where Hartman was penalized primarily because he was involved in the incidents that occurred, but in any event, he has a knack for angering other players. 

The flip side to that coin is how many penalties Hartman has drawn: 13, the most on the Predators, 6th most in the Central Division, and 18th overall in the league. 

Penalties can be overlooked if a player can make himself valuable in other ways, which Hartman has done. In the early stages of the season, Nashville’s top line was handling all the scoring, as Arvidsson and Forsberg were dominating teams from game to game. When the other three lines were challenged to produce, Hartman answered the call. Preceding a 5-3 loss against the Edmonton Oilers (in which Forsberg netted his seventh career hat trick), Hartman netted two goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. His first one of the night is quite possibly the prettiest goal for the Nashville Predators this season.

What’s The Point?

It’s easy to tell tale of Hartman’s on-the-ice escapades and throw random stats at you; what you might disregard is the potential Hartman has. Seeing how he is only 24, he’s still relatively young and contributes like a seasoned veteran. 

His role and assignments can expand from shutting down top lines of other teams to taking scoring initiative and lighting goaltenders up with shots. Hartman has done an exceptional job adjusting to the roles he’s been given this year. The contract he was given had “prove it” written all over it, and from how he’s played this year, he certainly has. 

Credit to NaturalStatTrick.com, Hockey-Reference.com, and NHL.com. Stats are up to date as of 19 December 2018.

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