Ryan Hartman didn’t get to really experience the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect camp last summer.
The West Dundee product had undergone shoulder surgery a few weeks before the 2013 camp, so he was more observer than participant. This July, with a full season in Plymouth and a partial one in Rockford under his belt, Hartman is ready to take full advantage of this prospect camp.
Hartman is focusing on getting bigger and stronger this summer, starting this week at Johnny’s IceHouse West. He’s been staying in Naperville and working out at the United Center throughout this offseason. And putting that IceHogs — or this week, Blackhawks — sweater on has been plenty motivating.
“Yeah, it’s (what I thought it would be) plus more,” said Hartman, the Blackhawks’ 30th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “Wearing the jersey that I grew up wearing and watching the team, it’s pretty cool, pretty special. It didn’t really sink in until the first couple times I was able to wear it.”
Hartman is coming off a solid second season with the Plymouth Whalers, with whom he recorded 25 goals and 28 assists in 52 games. He got a taste of the professional game with Rockford, where he played nine games and recorded seven points (three goals, four assists).
He said he noticed the difference between Plymouth and the professional American Hockey League right away.
“Everything was faster. It’s better players, bigger players, obviously,” he said on his Rockford time. “The game was that much quicker. You know you’ve got to get your shots off. You’ve got to make quicker decisions. All around, the whole game is a lot better."
Hartman is excited about the possibilities. He’ll likely start this fall in Rockford and would like to get to the Blackhawks’ level as soon as possible. But he understands the challenges. The Blackhawks are deep and they have been for some time, especially at the wings. As with so many other prospects in the system, patience is a much-practiced virtue.
“Especially with this great team the Hawks have, it’s going to take some time. (But) it helps you too,” Hartman said. “You get a lot of development. You get a few years under your belt. It allows you to mature and get stronger, so you’re prepared for the next level.”
The waiting isn’t easy but it’s par for the Blackhawks prospect course. Still, Hartman is looking to make as big a splash as possible if he is in Rockford this fall. Opportunity could knock at any time, and if it does, Hartman wants to be ready to answer.
“Anything is possible,” Hartman said. “Seeing them always winning, you obviously want to be a part of that. But it takes time. Hopefully when you get your chance, you make the best of it.”