The relationship between the United States National Development Team and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks has been a close one, with first-round draft picks such as Patrick Kane having cut their teeth as juniors wearing an USA sweater.
Yet, while the Blackhawks have been very fortunate with prospects’ successes such as those of Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, the team finds itself rather thin at the junior level with regards to the right wing position. Enter 2013 first-round draft pick Ryan Hartman, who continues to produce on the national stage and possesses the tools of a top-six NHL forward.
Hartman scored and tallied an assist as the U.S. mounted an impressive 6-3 win against Slovakia. Hartman only fired two of the team’s 47 shots on net. He also added a high-sticking penalty to round out his box score. Two goals and a penalty accurately describes Hartman’s junior hockey career thus far. With the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, Hartman has easily averaged over a point per game, but has totaled 164 penalty minutes in 81 games.
Yet, this is not a concern. Discipline can be taught, especially at the higher levels which the 19-year-old will inevitably reach. Also to his credit is his complete skill set, which will be more of a boon at the right wing position. Hartman can play center, but the Blackhawks are almost overly talented at the position thanks to Brandon Pirri and Teuvo Teravainen, who will be making his way to North America in 2014.
What will help the 190-pound Hartman are his hands, physicality, and a knack to continue to end up on the score sheet that can’t be taught. Although raw, his ceiling remains high, and the Blackhawks will not have to make a decision on their first-round pick until 2017. By that point, Hartman will be professional and be ready to break through the minor league system into the show.
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