Ryan Hartman’s Arbitration Case Will Test Wild Front Office

ST PAUL, MINNESOTA - JANUARY 05: Ryan Hartman #38 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during the game against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center on January 5, 2020 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Flames defeated the Wild 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MINNESOTA - JANUARY 05: Ryan Hartman #38 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during the game against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center on January 5, 2020 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Flames defeated the Wild 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

After a fantastic 2019-20 season, let’s examine Ryan Hartman‘s arbitration case and weigh the options that lie ahead next summer.

Ryan Hartman will be a restricted free agent next summer and he will be arbitration-eligible along with Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek. Kirill Kaprizov will also be coming off of his entry-level contract, so who knows if both parties will elect for a long-term extension or a multi-year bridge deal.

This means the Wild are likely investing a good portion of their cap space to these players, and this doesn’t even include Marcus Foligno who has one-year remaining on his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

This is exactly why it was so crucial for Bill Guerin to allocate his cap space accordingly this offseason. The Wild are opening themselves up to an enormous amount of cap space available for next summer assuming that the newly acquired forwards departure for free agency or sign for very little.

Before examining his arbitration case, let’s dive into his play this season and see how valuable he is to the team.

How good was Hartman in the 2019-20 campaign?

It was an interesting season for Hartman and he finally started to garner some long-awaited attention. The former first-round pick recorded 9 goals, 11 assists, and 20 points while averaging just over 12 minutes a night in his 69 games played. He played primarily in a fourth-line role and played against primarily bottom-six competition.

The 26-year-old winger is above-average offensively which is displayed in his goals for per hour, expected goals for per hour, and Corsi for per hour outputs. He is a good play-making forward and is very strong at generating offense and executing offensively when given his chances.

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Likewise, he is above-average in expected goals against per hour and Corsi against per hour outputs. He is strong at controlling quality offensive chances and shot attempts.

He is an average shooter but there is a possibility that a higher volume of shots that would be a result of more ice time could lead to a better finishing season for the winger. He scored 7 goals from his wrist shot and snapshot on just over 8 expected goals this season.

Likewise, he scored 2 goals from tips and slapshots on 2.7 expected goals. Furthermore, his output on his backhand was his best despite just scoring 2 goals on just one expected goal.

Hartman is a solid two-way winger but he also brings an element the Wild have lacked for a long time which is grit and physicality. There is an edge to his game that can’t be found outside of Foligno on the Wild.

It is no shock that Hartman has a strong impact defensively and that the Wild are significantly better in their own zone while he is on the ice. When Hartman is on the ice, the Wild surrender fewer shots than average in the slot and around the net which is displayed with the ice being blue in those areas.

This is paramount for success because allowing fewer shots than average in high-danger chances will lead to success more often than not.

The Wild does allow more shots than average, specifically on the left side while Hartman is on the ice. While this can lead to bounces, redirections, and tips, it has a lesser likelihood of going in than a high-danger chance in front of the net.

The Wild allowed 2.06 expected goals per hour when factoring in the location of the shots that they allowed. The Wild surrendered 19 percent fewer goals per hour than the league average.

Here’s the thing, Ryan Hartman is not a fourth-line caliber player, he is a strong middle-six forward that hasn’t been given the right deployment to succeed. According to PuckIQ, he played just 21 percent of his ice time against elite competition which ranks fourth among Wild forwards.

He was just ahead of Ryan Donato who was traded to the San Jose Sharks, Alex Galchenyuk who left in free agency, and Victor Rask who is typically an extra forward for the Wild.

Looking at WAR which is a comprehensive metric that takes all aspects of the game into account, Hartman offered 1.6 wins above replacement. A player should never be judged by a single number, but it is a good gauge of value and impact on their respective team.

While this is a three-year span, it is not much different than his results this year. This displays Hartman’s transition play and ability to move the play up and down the ice as well as his shot contributions. He ranks in the 70th percentile in controlled entries and exits.

This is very important because he is a strong possession player who is able to help the Wild transition from one area to another which can be extremely important. For a fourth-liner, or actually middle-six forward, this is strong numbers across the board.

Arbitration Case & Weighing the Possibilities

It is certainly possible that Ryan Hartman and the Wild agree to terms before an arbitration date is set. Although it would be unlikely because Hartman will likely desire, rightfully so, a different number than the Wild would want to sign him too.

The financial landscape a year from now could impact this situation too, as well as the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft.

Hartman certainly has a very strong case. He is a former 20-goal-scorer, and there is no doubt he could reach that plateau again if he were deployed correctly. He has been an impactful player on both ends of the ice and is still just entering his prime.

The Wild have a lot of players that will be seeking lucrative contracts in the next few years, so Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin will have to assess how much money he can allocate to Hartman’s next contract.

The Wild and Hartman could decide to do a short-term deal, a one or two-year deal until the financial landscape is in a better position.

I think the question that needs to be asked is whether the Wild will give him a third-line role, which he arguably deserves and would ultimately flourish with more minutes.

The Wild will probably like to sign Hartman in the ballpark of $2 million or just above it. I think Hartman’s camp would want somewhere around $3 or maybe $3.5 million.

Could the Wild meet in the middle at around $2.75 or $3 million? What about giving him a one-year deal with better deployment to see if he can prove to be more than a fourth-liner in terms of point production?

Testing the Front Office

It is still puzzling the Wild sent Ryan Donato to the San Jose Sharks. Not only was he an impactful player, but he was not afraid to shoot the puck or drive to the net which is a trait the Wild have lacked in their players.

The Hartman arbitration case will test the front office, moving on from Donato wasn’t smart whatsoever in my opinion. Don’t make a second mistake and move on from Hartman.

It is critical that the Wild keep Hartman, he is an impactful two-way player who isn’t afraid of throwing a body around or standing up for a teammate.

The only question that remains is whether the Wild can afford to give Hartman and Foligno upgrades on their current contracts.

All Data and Information Via Evolving-Hockey, Hockey-Reference, Hockey-Viz, PuckIQ & Corey Sznajder