Right winger Ryan Hartman ventured along the Manitoba-Ontario border in late June for a fishing trip as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
But before his expedition even wrapped up, he became a free agent after getting traded to the Dallas Stars — the start of a whirlwind week for the 24-year-old that ended with him joining the Wild on Monday after signing a two-year, $3.8 million contract.
“I think that this has worked out really well for me,” he said.
This entire year has been a busy one for Hartman.
After starting the season with the Predators, his second stop in the NHL after debuting and playing parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks, Hartman was shipped to the Flyers at the trade deadline, before getting moved again on June 24 to the Stars.
Despite telling the world on Twitter he was “heading off the grid,” Hartman got word of the trade while on his fishing excursion and was in contact with his agent. He also learned Dallas wouldn’t issue him a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
“We weighed options, kind of talked about which teams would be better fits than others,” Hartman recalled. “It was nice to be up there, too, because there was only dialogue between some close friends and my agent. There was no background noise. I couldn’t check media. I couldn’t check anything, so it was kind of nice to just have a clear mind through this whole process.”
Once Hartman became available, the Wild was intrigued and Hartman saw an opportunity to fill a niche as someone who is hard to play against, can make life difficult on the opponent and skates as an agitator with the ability to draw penalties and swing momentum.
“I’ve done that throughout my career,” Hartman said. “That’s what’s brought me to this point. I’m not looking to change anything. I want to bring that tenacity and grittiness to this team.”
A first-round draft pick in 2013 by Chicago, Hartman also has a knack for providing secondary scoring. In 2016-17, he tallied a career-best 19 goals and 31 points; last season, Hartman registered 12 goals and 26 points.
“He just brings the grizzle that I like,” General Manager Paul Fenton said. “I would like our team to play with a little more hardness and passion and excitement and I think he’ll not only do it himself, but he’ll bring people along with him.”
The Wild also signed forwards Gabriel Dumont and Luke Johnson to two-year, two-way contracts.
Dumont has suited up for 87 NHL games over six seasons with Montreal, Tampa Bay and Ottawa. Johnson, who played 15 games for the Blackhawks last season, is a former North Dakota player and helped the Fighting Hawks win the 2016 NCAA title.
Fenton said talks with the team’s restricted free agents have started, but he doesn’t have a timeline in mind for when negotiations might reach a resolution.
Qualifying offers, which were issued last week, expire July 15, and Friday is the deadline for players to elect for salary arbitration. Forward Ryan Donato and defensemen Louie Belpedio and Carson Soucy have arbitration rights, but Fenton said he hadn’t heard if they’d be exercising that option.
Currently, the Wild has approximately $11 million in cap space.
On the move
• Former Wild defenseman Nate Prosser received a two-year, two-way contract from the Flyers.
• The Sabres signed goalie Andrew Hammond, who was with the Iowa Wild last season, to a one-year deal.
• Cal O’Reilly, who captained Iowa last season, went to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on a two-year American Hockey League deal.