Analysis: Scott Hartnell is a Useful Forward Still But a Buyout Made Sense

By Sam Blazer on June 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm
Scott Hartnell skates the puck up the ice.
Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

He is a player from a bygone era.

They don't make players like left wing Scott Hartnell anymore. He is a rough and tumble player in a league where speed is king. 

He is slow and methodical as teams try to push the puck up the ice faster than ever. It is odd to see the game change away from his style.

With all of this against him, Hartnell produced this past season. You're going to hear about how this past year was the swan song of his career and how his production has fallen off of a cliff, not all of it is completely true. 

In 2016-17, Hartnell was used primarily used as a fourth line wing who saw just over 12 minutes a night. In that role, not much is expected of a player. He was seeing significantly less ice time than his teammates and regardless of the playing time dip, he produced. 

His even strength points per 60 were right at the top of the league. Hartnell's name was sandwiched between names like Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand when looking at the league leaders in the metric. 

He also proved to be an important part of the Blue Jackets resurgence in the bottom-six. While Sam Gagner produced 18 points on the power play, a large chunk of his 32 even strength points came with Hartnell on the ice. This isn't a coincidence or some sort of outlier. He is still a good player at 35-years old.

The problem with him isn't necessarily his play but everything attached to the player. His contract went on for much too long and his pay isn't anywhere close to what a bottom-six player in the league should make. Another huge red flag was the fact that from Game 42 on in the season, Hartnell only put up 13 points in 37 games. His age was showing and when they needed his production most, it was nowhere to be found.

His value at the time of his trade for R.J. Umberger can't be understated as he was a great player for a great price. That quickly faded away after 4.75 million was constantly attached to his name.

From a business point of view, the money should be spent on younger, still improving assets. Not every player can be Jaromir Jagr and play into their mid-40's, in fact, most players fall off a cliff production-wise after they get into their 30's.

Nonetheless, it still doesn't make the loss of an entertaining player any more palatable. Hartnell will be a name that lives on with many Blue Jacket fans.


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