The Wild's leading goal scorer so far this season is their eighth-highest paid forward and 14th-highest paid player on the roster.
Ryan Hartman, at $1.7 million per season, has delivered 12 goals in 22 games — perhaps the perfect snap shot of what has gone right for a Wild team that is scoring at a rapid clip up and down its lineup and that needs contributions from less-heralded players in the wake of buyouts for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and a lucrative extension for Kirill Kaprizov this past offseason.
Hartman, in his third season with the Wild, perhaps had a reputation as more of a checking center — a pest, as he was well-described in Sarah McLellan's feature earlier this season — coming into this year. But within every NHL player is the potential for goals.
Hartman joined the Daily Delivery podcast on Thursday in advance of the Wild's game against New Jersey to touch on a number of subjects.
Here's Hartman on ...
*The Wild's offensive explosion and their NHL-best (entering Thursday) 83 goals this year:
The last two weeks we've been scoring a lot of goals ... we know how to score and we have that scoring up and down our lineup, that depth scoring. My agent texted me after the game (Tuesday) and said how fun we are to watch. I was telling him I would hate to play us. Just the way we play. ... All four lines grind. All four lines have skill, but we work hard first and we do really good things with the puck and we're responsible. I'd really hate to play a team like us."
*On his journey from being the first NHL player born in South Carolina to growing up in Illinois — and the importance of time off from hockey:
"I was literally only (in Illinois) from when school started to when school ended, and obviously hockey season. The day school ended every year, I would get picked up on the last day of school. The car would be packed, and we'd drive down to South Carolina all the way until the first day of school started. That was every summer until I was 15 or 16. I didn't touch a hockey stick or play hockey. My dad didn't let me. It was time off, I guess. You look now and kids play 12 months a year. I spent my summer months playing baseball, golf, fishing. I worked on a fishing boat down in South Carolina. ... I just remember after every summer being so excited to start playing hockey again. Just being able to have to reignite that fire by taking time off was great and it made every year that much more fun."
On growing up a Blackhawks fan and then getting drafted by Chicago:
"I remember I had my last final my freshman year of high school in 2010 and it was my Spanish final. I didn't even look at a question. I just filled it out so I could get downtown to the (Stanley Cup) parade. My buddy picked me up from school and we drove down to Chicago and we were part of the sea of Blackhawks jerseys downtown on Wacker Drive. Fast forward three years and I was drafted by them. Fast forward another two years and I was on one of the buses for the parade. It was just a crazy five-year period."
On whether we should really be surprised that he's scoring goals:
"Everyone at the NHL level was really good growing up and that's the reason they're in the NHL. Sometimes they fall into roles that aren't necessarily goal-scoring roles. They don't really have the opportunity sometimes to score. But it's obviously there for every guy who's in the NHL."