(The top 10 continues in our ranking of the Hawks' best players under 25 years old! Here's the post on No. 9, Phillip Danault. For the first 15 names in the rankings, here are the posts on Nos. 11-15, Nos. 16-20 and Nos. 21-25.)
If you're thinking "Hey, Ryan Hartman, I know that name..." and quite can't place it, here's a little reminder of what Hartman did in his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils:
And even better than that, it turns out that Hartman -- a former first-round pick in 2013 -- is actually a pretty darn good prospect, too. Rated as the No. 61 prospect in the entire NHL by ESPN's Corey Pronman earlier this month, Hartman is a near-NHL-ready winger who can battle in the tough areas with just enough skill to finish quality scoring opportunities that come his way. Oh, and he can hit, as well. Dainius Zubrus knows that well.
Beyond his willingness to throw his weight around, Hartman's also a pretty steady two-way winger who should be able to play the kind of game the Blackhawks desire. As Pronman noted, "I don't think Hartman is going to wow you with his skill," but his physicality and defensive acumen make him a potentially well-rounded NHL player even if he's not equipped to score 30 goals a year.
During the 2014-15 season, Hartman recorded 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 69 games with the Rockford IceHogs. He also went scoreless in a brief five-game stint with Chicago. Those numbers aren't great, but he finished strong with 25 points in his final 34 games. In the playoffs, he had two goals and an assist in eight games before Rockford was eliminated.
There are definitely players on both Pronman's list and ours that have more upside, but Hartman seems like one of the safest bets in the organization to make it as an NHL player. He does all the things you want to see from a 20-year-old (turns 21 next month) in the AHL, and as he gains experience, it's encouraging to see the various aspects of his game progress. A year after being the No. 66 prospect on Pronman's list, he boosted himself up five spots and past another of the team's best young players, defenseman Ville Pokka.
Hartman will compete for playing time in camp with the myriad other options being thrown onto the ice for the third- and fourth-line spots. There's a good chance he's one of the players to win out and earn an NHL spot, although it's possible the Hawks might prefer to have him further polish his game in Rockford. Either way, Hartman should get his extended opportunity with the Blackhawks fairly soon, and there's a good chance he sticks once that happens.
Position: Right wing
Birth date: Sept. 20, 1994 (age 20)
Acquired via: First round (No. 30 overall) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Size: 5'11, 191 pounds
Contract: Entry-level; $863,333 cap hit for 2015-16; RFA in 2018
Highest ranking: No. 6
Lowest ranking: No. 11