ST. PAUL -- A strange question circulated the Internet last week: Does scrappy winger Ryan Hartman even know he’s been traded?
That story line was fueled by his mother, who unleashed an array of tweets after the Philadelphia Flyers traded her son to the Dallas Stars, claiming her son was on a fishing trip in a remote location and “still does not know” what is going on. She has since deleted her tweets, and Hartman has clarified that he did, in fact, have contact with his agent throughout the process.
That said, Hartman confirmed there was some truth to the story, explaining the strange situation on Monday after agreeing to a two-year, $3.8 million contract with the Wild. He indeed was on a fishing trip in a remote area in Canada, and didn’t learn he had been traded until well after it happened.
“Those days kind of blend together up there,” Hartman said. “It was probably Tuesday or Wednesday, we were flying out to a new lake, and the guy flying in actually was the one who relayed the news to me and had me call my agent. It kind of put a little damper on the fishing for the day.”
Still, it wasn’t as if Hartman was completely out of the loop. When he called his agent, he learned that he wasn’t going to tendered a qualifying offer, which made him an unrestricted free agent. He called his agent twice a day after that, going over his options before the Wild finally emerged as the lead candidate.
“It was nice to be up there because there was only dialogue between some close friends,” Hartman said. “There was no background noise. I couldn’t check social media. I couldn’t check anything. It was kind of nice to just have a clear mind through this whole process. At the end of the day, it was a decision made by me and some close friends.”
Hartman, 24, likely will slide into a bottom-six role with the Wild, serving an agitator who can score, too. A first-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2014, he had 12 goals and 14 assists for two teams (Nashville and Philadelphia) last season.
“He just brings the grizzle that I like,” Wild general manager Paul Fenton said. “I would like our team to play with a little more hardness, passion and excitement, and I think he’ll not only do it himself, he’ll bring people along with him.”
That is just how Hartman has been able to carve out a niche in the league.
“If momentum’s not going our way to start a game, or in the middle of the game, go out there and lay the groundwork and try to flip that momentum in our direction,” Hartman said. “I’ve done that throughout my career. 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.”
Restricted free agents
Now the Wild will shift their offseason focus to negotiating with restricted free agents Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato.
That is expected to play out over the next couple of weeks. It’s unclear at this point whether any of those players will opt for arbitration.
“We have started talking,” Fenton said. “I just don’t have any update.”
Minor league depth
Aside from some of the big-name signings, the Wild also added some minor league depth on Monday, agreeing to a two-year, two-way contract with center Luke Johnson ($700,000/$175,000 in 2019-20, $700,000/$200,000 in 2020-21) and a two-year, two-way contract with winger Gabriel Dumont ($700,000/$375,000 in 2019-20, $700,000/$400,000 in 2020-21).