A few months ago, the name Ryan Hartman was discussed quite a bit on In Lou We Trust. He was a line-mate of current Devils' prospect Blake Pietila for the US team at the World Junior Championships in January. The line was called the "grind line" during the competition and they were vital to the United States winning the gold medal in Russia. As the sixteenth ranked North American skater in the upcoming draft, Hartman is said to be under-ranked by some and is worth looking at due to his intense style of play and scoring touch. He has an impressive resume as he took part in many international competitions along with a successful first season in the OHL in 2012-2013. Keep reading for a full profile on Ryan Hartman.
Who is Ryan Hartman?
Coming in at 5'11" and 185 lbs, Hartman is not a big guy, but he plays a big game. As part of the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL, he scored 23 goals and 37 assists in just 56 games in the 2012-2013 season (his first with the team). Hartman missed the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs due to a major cut to his arm, but returned sooner than expected and found success in nine playoff games with the Whalers scoring four goals and two assists in nine games. As noted above, Hartman also took part in the US National Junior Team scoring two goals and three points in seven games, helping the team win gold at the 2013 WJC in Russia. He was one of just two draft-eligible players to make the team - the second being Seth Jones.
While Ryan is not ranked as high as other forwards coming into the draft, he has a lot to offer any team that selects him. He plays a gritty style games and does the dirty work along the boards, but he also has a great scoring touch. He's an extremely versatile player and doesn't let his size get in the way of his game. He is considered one of the best skaters in the draft class this year with great agility, acceleration, and speed. He is also admired for his creativity in the game - he sees the ice well and makes smart passes along with having a good shot.
With all of these positive aspects to his game, why is he expected to go further down in the first round? His size is his biggest issue, especially with his style of play. If he wants to keep up with his gritty style - which is his main asset, he needs to bulk up quite a bit. Because he is smaller, he will need to take time to develop and build up strength before he is ready to take on a full time role in the NHL. When he is ready, he could be a great top-six forward.
In comparing Hartman to another player, he has similarities to Mike Richards of the Los Angeles Kings and Ryan Callahan of the Rangers. While these two players are not the favorites of many Devils fans, having a player with a similar skillset would be nice to have on the New Jersey roster.
What experts are saying about Ryan Hartman:
Hartman is a well-liked prospect coming into the draft. Chris Edwards of NHL Central Scouting said,
"I think Ryan has come into the league this season and done everything that was expected of him and more. He has shown some toughness to go along with his high-end skill set and excellent skating ability. He has been one of the offensive leaders for the Whalers this season."
"He's not the biggest guy, but he shows no fear of getting involved and battles for the puck. He can hit hard and is aggressive on the forecheck. He sees the ice well, gets the puck through traffic with creative passes and offers a very good shot that he gets off quickly."
"When you're playing that well on a stage like [the WJC], you prove you're a big-name guy and can play with better players and better competition."
Speaking of the WJC, Hartman played with the projected number one draft pick, Seth Jones. Here is what Jones had to say about Hartman's game,
"Ryan's a great player. He's gritty when he needs to be and can score, drives to the net and forechecks hard. He's an all-around package; he hits, scores and moves the puck well. I can't think of any weaknesses."
"He's a guy who can play center or wing, so that proves to me right off the bat the range he has as a player."
"Ryan Hartman has been a workhorse all season. His determination and work ethic on the ice has thoroughly impressed scouts during the past Plymouth Whalers season. When he isn't scoring goals, or racking up assists, he's getting in a tussle with the team's opposing players.
Game in and game out, he plays much bigger than his size indicates. Standing at 5'11″, Hartman plays like a power forward. His all-around game stands out from the competition and he plays a full 200 ft. His skating is adept, as is his hockey smarts and vision. The Illinois native doesn't possess the hardest shot, but he uses his accuracy and hard work in front of the net score goals and create chances."
"He knows how to play but one way - whatever it takes to win. He competes, has an edge, can be chippy and dirty, but he plays within the confines of discipline. He will target key players on the opposition's side. He's smart with the puck, can make very good plays and has confidence with the puck. He will drive the net with or without the puck and he pays a price to play. Good skater who has very good game awareness as to what needs to happen to help his team win. Overall, a player who is no fun to play against."
Once again, it is nothing but praise for Hartman. He earns everything he gets, so he will be an exciting player to watch no matter where he ends up.
First is an interview Hartman did with the NHL Network:
Here is a profile of Hartman from NHL.com
Finally, here are a few videos of Hartman at the WJC in January,
I really like Ryan Hartman, but I don't think the Devils will take him with their first round pick. He has a lot of what the Devils need in a forward, but there are more players closer to playing at the NHL level that New Jersey should pick with such a high spot. While he isn't ranked to go when New Jersey picks, I think he has more potential than his ranking gives him. He's a smart and talented player who could be a fan favorite in a few years.
My favorite thing about Hartman's game is his work ethic - he is playing his hardest every time he hits the ice. He is constantly working on his game, which is why it's tough to find a weakness in his game. While he isn't expected to go until late in the first round, it has been noted that with his skill set, he deserves to go earlier. While I don't think he will become a New Jersey Devil, I imagine Hartman will be a great top-six forward for whatever team he lands on.
Now what you've read up on Hartman and know my opinion, what do you think of Ryan Hartman? Where do you think he will be drafted in June? Would you like to see him play for the Devils? What excites you most about his game? Feel free to answer these questions or to discuss any other opinions on Hartman in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!