That's how Wild brass described Ryan Hartman after signing him in 2019, bringing in the free-agent forward to sharpen the team's edge and make it tougher to play against while also adding a coveted right shot to its repertoire.

And that's how Hartman played, killing penalties and blocking shots during his 12 minutes a game on the fourth line.

But two seasons later, Hartman has become much more to the Wild than a buzzword — or a buzz saw.

He's been upgraded, in opportunity and the lineup, and has responded by becoming one of the team's leading goal scorers.

"He dictated it," coach Dean Evason said. "He's got better and better every year because of how he's played the game."

The specialized depth role Hartman debuted in with the Wild wasn't a new assignment for him. It was his calling card with his past few NHL teams.

After getting traded from Chicago to Nashville, he joined a Predators squad in 2018 that was coming off a run to the Stanley Cup Final. The depth chart was gridlocked, so Hartman carved out a niche as a penalty killer.

Ryan Hartman career statistics

A year later, he was shipped out to Philadelphia, where he played just 19 games before the Flyers moved him to Dallas after the 2018-19 season. But the Stars never extended Hartman a qualifying offer to retain his rights, making him a free agent. He signed a two-year, $3.8 million contract with the Wild.

"I just wanted to show the player I always have been," Hartman said.

Growing up, Hartman was a goal scorer.

His shot has a delayed release that can catch goaltenders off guard because he drags the puck from the toe to the heel of his stick, leaving it on the blade longer than most.

In juniors, he racked up 20-plus goals a season and averaged a point per game. But he was also physical, a mash-up of styles that positioned him as a skilled agitator during his draft year. And the Blackhawks scooped him up, selecting him in the first round, 30th overall, in 2013.

When he finally stuck with Chicago three years later, Hartman scored 19 goals.

The next season, he was traded, and the carousel began.

"Two years of just bouncing around," Hartman said.

With the Wild, Hartman has morphed back into the version of himself that got him to the NHL.

During 2019-20, he chipped in nine goals, averaged more than a minute a game on the penalty kill and led Wild forwards in blocked shots (54).

Earlier this year, he continued to work on the PK but became more of a factor offensively after moving from wing to center. He finished with 22 points in 51 games before scoring twice in the playoffs.

Now, nine games in, he's already up to four goals.

Not only is that more than half as many as the seven he tallied last season, but he's tied for the most on the team with winger Marcus Foligno; his two game-winners are tops.

Hartman is also taking regular reps on the power play, where he has capitalized, and he was included in the debate over one of the two alternate captain vacancies that ultimately went to Foligno and defenseman Matt Dumba.

"You get promoted, you get a little more confidence, and that's what you're seeing right now with Hartzy," Foligno said. "He's got confidence. He's got an understanding of the way he has to play. You're seeing it now.

"You have to, not wait your turn, but sometimes when guys aren't playing well and you're staying that consistent, Coach kind of looks at you and promotes you and then when you get that opportunity, you have to stay there and that's what he's doing right now."

This evolution has been accompanied by stability.

With 13 more games, Hartman will have seen more regular-season action with the Wild than with any other team in his NHL career, a partnership that re-upped in April when the 27-year-old accepted a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension.

"I knew the obstacles Minnesota had this summer with contracts," said Hartman, mentioning forwards Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov. "I'm fourth, maybe fifth, in line with those contract negotiations."

Instead of chasing a more lucrative deal, which he had done with Nashville when he turned down six- and three-year offers, Hartman wanted to solidify his future with the Wild, and he agreed to those team-friendly terms.

That helped the Wild in the offseason since it had more financial flexibility to re-sign Eriksson Ek, Fiala and Kaprizov, and the team is benefiting now with Hartman's performance.

But so is Hartman.

"You can say it was less," he said, "but I take that as more opportunity for me to play an extended role."