NASHVILLE – Ryan Hartman was on the ice at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday for the Predators’ home opener, just like he was a year ago.
But instead of repping Nashville again, he made his debut with the Wild to start the next chapter in his career after a hectic year in which Hartman switched teams three times.
“It’s part of being a professional athlete,” Hartman said. “Those type of things happen. You look to try to find a home full-time. You go somewhere and hope that’s it. Hopefully I’ve found a home here in Minnesota.”
After beginning last season with the Predators, the right winger was moved to the Flyers before the trade deadline and closed out 2018-19 with Philadelphia.
In late June, the Flyers traded Hartman to the Stars but Hartman never got the chance to suit up for Dallas because the team decided not to extend a qualifying offer to retain his rights, making Hartman a free agent. While this was going down, Hartman was along the Manitoba-Ontario border for a fishing trip.
On July 1, he signed a two-year, $3.8 million contract with the Wild.
“We really like his game,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “From the physical portion to the ability to make plays, we found out that he can kill penalties — good things that he’s done so far that we’ve really liked. We haven’t seen anything we haven’t liked.”
Hartman started Thursday’s game on the fourth line with winger Marcus Foligno and center Joel Eriksson Ek after making what’s looked like a seamless transition into the lineup and dressing room. Through four exhibition games, the 25-year-old tallied a goal and two assists.
“Everyone’s got a fresh start no matter how the preseason went,” he said. “I’ve been pretty fired up for this one, a time you look forward to all summer. So I think everyone’s ready to go.”
Road to Russia
First-year Wild General Manager Bill Guerin was in Nashville for the team’s opener, but a trip to Russia is on his calendar for the end of November/early December to chat with prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov.
In his third season with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, Kaprizov has 16 points (nine goals) through 13 games.
“I have talked to his agent a number of times, and we have a good relationship,” Guerin said. “We’ll go over there together. I think it’s really important that he is comfortable and he knows who I am. I want to make a commitment to go over there. It’s really important.”
Seeler over Soucy
Nick Seeler got the nod over rookie Carson Soucy for the Wild’s season opener, filling out the third defensive pairing with Brad Hunt.
“Quite frankly it’s the guy who’s been here longer,” Boudreau said. “I just thought Seel’s been the incumbent here, and Soucy’s done a great job to be here. But I always believe in giving the guys the chance that have been here the longest.”
Boudreau did chat with Seeler, who presented in training camp as the same rugged, physical defender he was last season during his first full-length campaign in the NHL, about staying calm and not getting too wound up.
“It’s play excited but with composure,” Boudreau said.
As for Greg Pateryn, who is recovering from bilateral core muscle repair surgery, the Wild shifted him to injured reserve and is now carrying 22 players on its active roster.