Ryan Hartman Making an Impact with Minnesota Wild and Community

Ryan Hartman has scored more goals this year with the Minnesota Wild than the three previous seasons combined.(Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Ryan Hartman has scored more goals this year with the Minnesota Wild than the three previous seasons combined.(Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman’s nationally televised finger to Evander Kane led to him being fined by the NHL but won him the hearts of a lot fans from around the league. Donations started pouring in to help cover the costs and rapidly grew once Hartman announced the money was being donated to a local children’s hospital. An impressive $30,500 was collected.

While Hartman’s recent attention was brought on by what some considered a rude gesture, it seems unbelievable that he hasn’t garnered more attention from having an absolute career year playing as the first line center for the Wild and is second in goals behind only Kirill Kaprizov.

The former late first round draft pick has been in the NHL full-time for six seasons and has already played with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, and now for the Wild. Hartman has spent the majority of his career playing bottom six minutes and was seen as a mostly gritty type player until this year.

After taking a pay cut to stay with the Wild, Hartman wandered his way around the lineup as needed, playing center or winger on top line or all the way to bottom. After an early experiment this season with Eriksson Ek centering Kaprizov and Zuccarello failed to produce, Hartman slotted in and found his finishing touch.

He made the transition to the 1C role look easy with a personal best 31 goals and is rapidly closing in on 60 points (currently has 59) on the season.

While Hartman acknowledges that his line-mates have no doubt helped improve his point production, his advanced stats show a little more:

"“I would say it’s something I thought I could get to maybe at some point in my career, obviously playing with the guys that I’m playing with really help [with] that … doesn’t matter if I have 50 goals and we don’t make the playoffs, I kind of just focus on that aspect.”"

His plus-minus of +30 is second best on the Wild, his corsi-for percentage in all situations is on the high side of 54%, and his five-on-five goals-for percentage is an amazing 66%. His play on both sides of the ice has been consistently improving as the playoffs near, as his third three-point game against the Blues gave him 15 in the last 15 .

Hartman’s play has elevated in all areas and you can’t help but feel like it has everything to do with the Wild’s team first mentality.

The recent altercation with Kane was just a prime example of a teammate that would do anything for anyone on his team, or even his community. Whether that means playing a gritty role on the fourth line or a sniper role as a first line center, Hartman has  the ability and the desire to do so.

As a player that was doubted and shuffled around early in his career, it is hard to imagine that the trust and appreciation that coach Dean Evason and the Wild organization have shown him hasn’t impacted him this season.

He has had time to develop chemistry, given more responsibility as his play warranted, seen first power play time, and has grown as much or more than any player on the roster.

So is Ryan Hartman a career No. 1 center?

Probably not.

His abilities in the faceoff are lacking and he is definitely the odd-man out in the pair that is Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, but with his steal of a $1.7 million AAV contract he will absolutely be a key player in the Wild’s top six moving forward.

It is possible that an offseason focus on faceoffs may give him a strong case for staying right where he is, even with rookie Marco Rossi vying for his spot.

Data collected from NHL.com and naturalstattrick.com