Ryan Hartman, the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2013 first-round selection, missed out on a summer of development last year. Healthy and ready to go, this year the Illinois native is looking to make an impact in his first full season as a pro.
“Last summer I had shoulder surgery and I was kind of limited in what I could do. I didn’t have much of a summer going into the season,” he said. “This summer I really focused on the weight room — getting bigger, getting stronger.
“I’ve been training since June and just working on my off-the-ice strength and I think that’s really going to help me transition this year.”
Hartman finished his 2013-14 OHL season with the Plymouth Whalers, scoring 25 goals and adding 28 assists in 52 games. He also saw action in nine AHL games with the Rockford IceHogs, scoring three times and adding four assists.
“Even getting a few games and being there with the team and getting to know the coaching staff and the whole organization was a good base to build off for next year,” he said. “I know what I’m getting myself into and the guys know me a bit now, so it’ll make the year a lot easier and the transition a lot easier.”
Participating in the rookie camp was a great way to get back in the swing of things, he explained — both physically and mentally.
“The whole experience, meeting the other guys, it’s good hockey. Seeing the other future prospects on other teams is fun too,” he said. “It’s early in the season and it’s a great way to get your legs under you before camp.”
Having played with and against many of these competitors in the OHL also helps.
“Maybe before because you know the way some guys play, while other guys not so much,” he said. “There are some guys in the locker room that I’ve played against and played with them. Coming into each game everyone kind of has a grasp on each guy. That’s a good thing to have and it helps during the game a lot.”
But without much time to practice as a team, it’s tough to get any system work in, he said. Of course, that works to his advantage, Hartman explained.
“The game’s a little sloppy — there aren’t as much in the way of systems as there would be in a normal game,” he said. “That’s part of my game, though — I’m not a finesse guy so it doesn’t really affect me too much.
“Some of the other guys may be affected, but I just grind it out and play that way.”
And focusing on that simple, gritty, greasy style of play is what Hartman hopes will hold him in good stead with the Blackhawks.
“I want to be up as long as possible,” he said. “I want to see if I get my shot and if I do, I want to make the best of it.
“I know Chicago’s got a loaded team, obviously, so it’s a tough lineup to crack, but I’m just going to play my game and see how far it takes me.
Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard