The Hometown Guy – Ryan Hartman
Then there is Illinois native, Ryan Hartman. There are a lot of factors that are in Hartman’s favor that make him look like the most likely player in the organization right now, to be the successor to Jonathan Toews as Blackhawks Captain. There are a number of intangibles that Hartman fits when looking at an NHL player who could be named a Captain.
The most prevalent that we have seen from Hartman so far is the willingness to do whatever the team needs on the ice to be successful as a group. We’ve seen already this season that Hartman is willing to get into puck battles in the corners, play tough in front of the net, kill penalties, and jump into the offensive rush when called upon.
Hartman’s game has always been a mix-bag of physicality and skill. Not the most imposing player at five-foot-eleven and 191-pounds, but Hartman rarely will back down from laying a big hit, or sticking up for a teammate in a scrum or fight. That is something that goes a long way when looking at players who will be able to get a locker room to go through a wall for them, as the saying goes.
Another thing Hartman has going for him is his tie to the community. Yes, he was born in South Carolina, but he grew up in West Dundee and played his youth hockey in Schaumburg, Crystal Lake, and with the Chicago Mission. Hartman grew up a Blackhawks fan and was drafted by his childhood favorite team in 2013 as a ‘local boy.’
Already making an impact with the Blackhawks in his first full season this year, Hartman has been looked at, along with Scott Darling and Vince Hinostroza, as a role-model for local Chicago-land youth players to look up to and think that one day they could also play for their local Blackhawks and follow the footsteps of guys like Hartman, Darling, Hinostroza, Chris Chelios, and Eddie Olczyk.
Finally, Hartman has found success at all levels of competition. He won a Gold Medal with Team USA in both the 2012 U18 World Junior Championships and the 2013 World Junior Championship, was named to the CHL Top Prospects game in 2013, and was named to the AHL All-Star team with the Rockford IceHogs last season. Anywhere Hartman has played, he has been at the top of the competition standards.
If Hartman’s time continues with the Blackhawks until 2023 and beyond, there is no doubt he will be a strong candidate to be the leader of the organization. At that point he will be 29 years old, going on 30. It’s a long time away still, and Hartman’s current entry-level deal ends after next season, but if he continues on the path he is now, there is little to show that he won’t be a key piece for the Blackhawks moving forward.