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Chicago Blackhawks’ Ryan Hartman Gets High Marks For Breakout Season

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Mar 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Former first-round draft pick Ryan Hartman showed top-six potential while leading Chicago Blackhawks rookies in a breakout season

The Chicago Blackhawks’ Ryan Hartman grabbed a spot on the club’s opening night roster with five other rookies, then went on to play a key role in 76 regular-season games for the eventual Western Conference champions.

For the 2016-17 regular season, the 22-year-old winger led all Chicago rookies in games played (76), goals (19), game-winning goals (4) and points (31). His 12 assists were second only to Nick Schmaltz with 22, and his plus-13 rating trailed only Tanner Kero’s plus-15 among full-time first-year players.

Now that the Blackhawks have dispersed for the summer after being summarily swept out of the playoffs in four straight games by the Nashville Predators, we’re going to continue evaluating each of the Blackhawks and assigning an overall grade for their performances last season. Here’s a look at Hartman.

The positives

After playing a total of eight games with the ‘Hawks over the first two years of his entry-level contract, Hartman finally stuck with the big club this year and delivered on the lofty expectations that came with the 2013 first-round draft pick out of Hilton Head, S.C.

The durable winger sat for only six games of the regular season, and showed remarkable versatility playing up and down the lineup on all four lines, even getting a start at center late in the season.

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Hartman has proved to be a powerful skater and skillful stickhandler who can turn on a dime with lightning-quick reaction and deceptive acceleration. He posted 19 tallies on 170 shots for a shooting percentage of 11.2 percent (sixth-best on the team), and his 5-on-5 Corsi-for rating of 53 percent ranked third on the team for puck possession among all players with at least 20 games.

Here are two examples of Hartman’s exceptional offensive skill

— In the ‘Hawks’ 3-1 win over Dallas on Dec. 11, Hartman snared the puck at the blue line, undressed two Stars defensemen, then got off a shot that deflected into the net off Artem Anisimov for the game-winning-goal.

— In overtime against Toronto on March 18, Hartman’s speed created a breakaway that he converted by faking a shot, then beating goalie Freddie Andersen for the winner. Awesome stuff.

Playing most of the season on the third and fourth lines, Hartman showed he’s an effective two-way player who can quickly get on the backcheck and win board battles to turn play back towards the offensive zone.

In a 3-2 win against Ottawa on March 16, he chased down Zack Smith to kill an open-net chance for the Sens to break a 1-1 tie late in the third. Playing bigger than 6-feet tall and 180 pounds, Hartman likes to play the body hard, and his 121 hits this season were second only to Richard Panik. Additionally, Hartman’s ratio of takeaways to giveaways was 36:31, mid-pack among forwards.

The negatives

Racking up a team-high 70 minutes of penalties, Hartman averaged close to one minute per game in the box over the regular season. He’s an aggressive, feisty player by nature, but takes too many unnecessary and costly penalties. He needs to decrease penalty minutes, especially the major and misconduct variety.

Offensively, I’d like to see him causing more havoc in front of the opposing netminder, and taking more shots when the opportunity is there.

Like every other Blackhawk, Hartman came up empty against Nashville. Zero points on six shots, a 5-on-5 Corsi-for of 49.4 percent, and (again) a team-high 14 minutes in the penalty box. About the only positive for Hartzy was winning two of three faceoffs!

Next: Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews: Grade for 2016-17 Season

Grade: B+

Hartman’s statistics and overall performance exceeded everyone’s expectations this season and led all ‘Hawks rookies in almost every category. B+ is also a vote of confidence in his potential to put up even better numbers in the future. Hartman will become a restricted free agent at the end of next season, so he’ll be highly motivated to be even better next year.

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