Vinnie Hinostroza was on the ice early, getting in some shooting before practice Monday at MB Ice Arena, a little more than three hours before the trade deadline at 2 p.m. As his teammates began to file out of the dressing room and onto the ice, the news started to spread.
Ryan Hartman was being moved.
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That news hit everyone on the team hard. But for Hinostroza, the trade that sent Hartman to the Predators for a 2018 first-round draft pick, a 2018 fourth-round pick and Swedish winger Victor Ejdsell hit especially hard. The two grew up together, played multiple sports together, then cracked the lineup of their hometown team together.
“I don’t really know what to think. I haven’t talked to him yet,” Hinostroza said after practice. “We’re always going to remain best friends. That’s not going to change anything. We’ll always spend our summers together and stuff. … Hopefully, he’s still here. I can give him a hug before he gets out of here, or go get a bite or something.”
Hartman is off to the playoffs with a Predators team that’s poised to make a Stanley Cup run. He leaves behind a team in shambles, a last-place squad that was a seller on trade-deadline day for the first time in more than a decade.
“It’s a different feeling,” Patrick Kane said. “Obviously, we’re not in the position we’d like to be in. Usually at this time of year, you’re looking toward some of the bigger names on the trade list and seeing if we’re getting any of them. Obviously, that’s not the case this year.”
Hartman, the feisty local kid and 2013 first-round pick who scored 19 goals as a rookie, seemed poised to become a big part of the Hawks’ future. He instead became the first major casualty of the team’s stunning free fall. Michal Kempny was traded for a third-round pick last week, Tommy Wingels was dealt for a 2019 fifth-rounder and Lance Bouma was waived and assigned to Rockford to clear a roster spot for Matthew Highmore, the IceHogs’ leading scorer.
The Hawks also sent a fifth-rounder this year to the Predators in the Hartman deal. They now have two first-round picks, no second-round pick and two third-round picks. The Hawks pursued Ejdsell last spring, but the undrafted winger chose to sign with the Predators. The 6-5, 214-pounder has 17 goals and 14 assists in 44 games this season in the Swedish Elite League.
A source said that the Flyers, Jets and Hurricanes also had interest in Hartman but that general manager Stan Bowman’s asking price — a first-round pick and possibly more — was too high. The Predators were willing to pay it. Coach Joel Quenneville suggested that’s why the Hawks made the somewhat unusual move of dealing a player to a division rival.
“It’s a good opportunity for him, going to a team with a chance to win, and going [to the Stanley Cup Final] last year,” Quenneville said. “I’m sure they’re excited about getting a guy like Hartzy.”
Hartman had just eight goals and 16 assists in 56 games this season and was a healthy scratch seven times. But the versatile and scrappy forward was one of the few Hawks who was fully engaged most nights during this dreadful season.
Hartman had a knack for drawing penalties, but he also had a knack for taking them. He led the Hawks with 58 penalty minutes this season and was stapled to the bench by Quenneville on Saturday in Columbus after a foolish high-sticking penalty behind the play negated a Hawks two-on-one and led to a Blue Jackets power-play goal.
Hartman will be a restricted free agent this summer, but Predators general manager David Poile never would have given up so much if he didn’t intend to extend his contract.
“I love being here,” Hartman said last week when speculation first popped up. “I haven’t really thought of myself anywhere else.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.