Scott Hartnell has always been a good role player for his entire career. When he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Hartnell was coming off of a shortened season where he scored 39 points in 64 games. A year ago, Hartnell had one of his finest season’s in the NHL. He scored a career high 37 goals while playing all 82 games. Also, Hartnell scored the most amount of points in his 11-year career.
The questions that I want to bring up are “Do players get better with age and experience?” or “Does a player get better by playing with players that have age and experience?”
These questions can both be answered with a “yes”, but each question has a different explanation for their answer.
Hartnell is entering his 12th NHL season. 12 seasons does seem like a long time, but for Hartnell, playing that long may have actually helped him get better. In 6 seasons with the Nashville Predators, Hartnell was only healthy enough to play 1 full season. In that one year, he recorded 34 points but had a plus/minus of -3. In three of his six years in Nashville, Hartnell had negative plus/minus seasons. Only one year in his six year career with the Predators did Hartnell average a plus/minus of over 10.
In his 5 seasons with the Flyers, Hartnell has played at least 80 games in all five. Only in one season did Hartnell have a negative plus/minus. Though Hartnell benefited by playing with Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux last season, he was able to learn how to be in the right place at the right time with the help of the experience of Jagr.
With Jagr gone, Jakub Voracek will most likely take his place on the first line. Jagr has left Hartnell and Giroux with the ability to play at their best, which is why they both had career years. By inserting a similar type player in Voracek, Hartnell will benefit by being the main shooter on the line. Hartnell took the most shots of his entire career when he was the focus of the first line. He also averaged the best shot percentage of his career with 15.9%.
Because of Hartnell’s NHL experience, the help from Jagr a season ago, and the skill level of his line mates, I do believe that Hartnell can match his 2011-2012 point total. The Flyers have put themselves in a great situation by keeping their core of players together. Look out for a big season from the Flyers’ first line.
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