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Hartman hoping to return sooner than expected

by Mike G. Morreale /

The pictures shared by numerous Twitter account holders of the ugly laceration on the right forearm of Plymouth Whalers forward Ryan Hartman led one to believe he would be sidelined the remainder of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.

Hartman, the No. 25-ranked skater on NHL Central Scouting's midterm release of the top draft-eligible North American prospects, has other intentions.

Hartman informed on Wednesday that his doctor told him earlier in the day there was no sign of infection. That means with continued healing, he could return to the lineup as early as next week.

"It looks good … I got half the stitches out [Wednesday]," Hartman told "The doctor then re-casted it and I'll go back on Monday to get it off. The fact there was no infection was the determining factor on if I could return soon."

Hartman is having a brace specifically designed for his injury that he would wear if he does return to action. He said by immobilizing his wrist, he would be able to return to the ice.

"In my mind, the goal is to hopefully be ready by Wednesday," Hartman said. "Right now I'm skating [on my own] without contact and no pucks. I'm just trying to stay in shape for when I return."

The 5-foot-11, 181-pound right wing missed the final three games of his team's six-game series triumph over the Owen Sound Attack in the Western Conference semifinals last week after sustaining that gash to his right wrist, which required 14 outside stitches and seven more underneath the skin.

If all goes according to plan, Hartman could return to the lineup by Game 4 of his team's best-of-7 conference final showdown with the London Knights on Wednesday in Plymouth. The series shifts for a possible Game 5 on April 26 in London.

Hartman said there were no television cameras at the game in which he was injured, but he was cut late in the third period of Game 3 against Owen Sound; a 6-3 win on April 9.

"I hip-checked the guy and I think we both fell to the ice and he landed on my arm," Hartman said. "That's what I can remember. The doctor said I got lucky … it missed all the major stuff in my wrist."

Hartman, who has three goals, four points, a plus-3 rating and 14 penalty minutes in seven playoff games for the Whalers, was originally thought to be out at least three weeks.

Hartman had 23 goals, 60 points, a plus-29 rating and 120 penalty minutes in 56 regular-season games for Plymouth.

"I think Ryan has come into the league this season and done everything that was expected of him and more," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards said. "He has shown some toughness to go along with his high-end skill set and excellent skating ability. He has been one of the offensive leaders for the Whalers this season."

Hartman also played a key role on the grind line for the United States National Junior Team in January, producing two goals, three points and a plus-4 rating in seven games to help the Americans to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

He was one of just two 2013 draft-eligible players to earn a roster spot for Team USA, along with Central Scouting's No. 1-rated skater at the midterm release, defenseman Seth Jones, of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks.

"Ryan's a great player," Jones told "He's gritty when he needs to be and can score, drives to the net and forechecks hard. He's an all-around package; he hits, scores and moves the puck well. I can't think of any weaknesses."


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