When the Blackhawks traded Andrew Shaw in July, they started looking at possibilities within their system to replace him. One of the first names that popped up was Ryan Hartman.
As training camp continues, Hartman is showing he’s still under consideration for that gritty, net-front presence.
Hartman scored his first preseason goal in the Blackhawks’ 6-1 victory over Detroit on Tuesday. It was the type of goal the Blackhawks are looking for: a shot from close range – in Hartman’s case, a backhand – off a rebound. The goal helps Hartman’s camp case but for a guy who grew up in West Dundee, it was a great personal moment, too.
“I don’t know how many games total, including regular season, preseason, I’ve played in since I was drafted. That was my first in a Hawks uniform, so it was pretty special,” said Hartman.
But this is more about Hartman making the team. As of now, his game has gotten positive reviews.
“I think he’s got a little bit more of that bite in his game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re looking for more consistency pace-wise and tenacity and he’s got some good skills in those areas. We want to see him try to be a little faster in his overall approach. But I think the way he thinks and sees the game and competes in the game, we like the progression that he’s had in camp.”
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The Blackhawks will still be playing a good amount of their prospects in Saturday’s preseason finale in St. Louis. Hartman, who skated on a line with Alexandre Fortin and Marcus Kruger at Thursday’s practice, is likely among them. The spots are there, but so is the competition.
“I mean, there’s a lot of guys battling for very few spots, some are the same, some are different. But there’s definitely good competition. It makes us battle every day and pushes us to get better,” Hartman said. “We’re just trying to earn our trust with the coaching staff. Just do what you can and it should push you through.”
The Blackhawks have made it clear they like how defenseman Gustav Forsling has looked in camp. The way it looks right now, the young Swede could be with the Blackhawks this season.
“I think his play really has kept us on one topic, and that’s looking at him being around here,” Quenneville said. “That’s something that’s really been more on the forefront than the other discussions.”
According to generalfanager.com, this first year of Forsling’s contract will count, regardless of whether the 20-year-old plays here or in Sweden. While Forsling would be joining an already deep defense, the Blackhawks would get him in the lineup.
“If he's going to be here, he'd be playing,” Quenneville said.
- Quenneville said the Blackhawks “could” exercise the 10-game option with forward Alexandre Fortin. The 19-year-old just signed a three-year, entry-level contract on Sept. 25. If he plays in at least 10 games this season, that will burn the first year of his contract. Considering how Fortin has played, it may be worth it. “He's definitely been giving us something to think about each and every day. Loved his progression here and we love his speed; did some good things on the power play as well last game,” Quenneville said. “He's not making it easy on us.”
- Marian Hossa did not skate on Thursday. He’s expected to do so on Friday.
- Corey Crawford is expected to play the entire game on Saturday.