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X-Factor

Ryan Hartman filling big hole for Blackhawks

Forward steps in to replace void left by departure of Andrew Shaw

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

Ryan Hartman isn't a carbon copy of Andrew Shaw, but he's close enough for the Chicago Blackhawks.

After trading Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens on June 24, the Blackhawks needed a role-playing forward to provide versatility, grit and timely goals, all things Shaw did to help them win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.

Hartman, 22, has answered the call.

The rookie left wing, who spent most of the past two seasons with Rockford of the American Hockey League, had 31 points (19 goals, 12 assists) in 76 games and helped the Blackhawks finish with the most points (109) in the Western Conference.

 

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He played on all four lines, including a stint centering the second line, and contributed on the power play late in the season.

"I look at [Hartman's] year, and you've got to be real happy with his contribution," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He had a terrific year. If you'd have said he'd get 20 [goals], it would be a great number for him. He brings us a little bite as well."

If that sounds like Shaw, it's not a coincidence.

The Blackhawks selected Hartman (6-foot, 181 pounds) with the 30th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft with the hope he would develop into a slightly larger version of Shaw (5-11, 179). Based on his production, he's right on track.

Shaw scored 70 goals in 322 games during five seasons for the Blackhawks, with a high of 20 in 2013-14, and excelled in drawing penalties. Quenneville even learned to live with some of the undisciplined penalties Shaw took.

Hartman entered this season with a reputation for taking too many penalties, but improved his discipline. His 70 penalty minutes aren't much more than Shaw's average of 60 per season with the Blackhawks, and he also draws penalties. 

"[He] has that edge to his game you appreciate, knowing he's in the tough areas, and he's willing to be scrappy at the net and in puck areas," Quenneville said. "When he's out there, you respect that. Your opponents are aware of him as well, but you're not out there with a free pass to take penalties."

Video: CHI@COL: Hartman beats Pickard five-hole

That's especially true in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Hartman again will be measured against Shaw's past contributions.

Shaw had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 67 playoff games for the Blackhawks, including his triple-overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

That was near the end of Shaw's second run through the playoffs. As a rookie in the 2012 postseason he went without a point in three games, which were sandwiched around a three-game suspension by the NHL Department of Player Safety because of a hit on Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.

Chicago needs Hartman to avoid a similar situation in his first Stanley Cup Playoff experience, and the key will be continuing to provide what Shaw took with him to Montreal.

"He's been a big player for us this year and he's been very productive," forward Patrick Kane said. "He plays a good style of hockey that we've kind of been missing for a little bit. He's physical, he draws penalties and it seems like he's always on the puck. He's had a great season so far." 

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