After a long negotiation, the Ottawa Senators have come to an agreement with restricted free agent Mike Hoffman on a four-year deal worth $5.188MM per season. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal, and also gave us the financial breakdown; Hoffman will earn $3.8MM next season, and $5.65MM for the three following years.
Hoffman was set to go to arbitration on August 4th, his second time through the process. Last summer, the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement before the hearing, which resulted in a $2MM decision from the arbitrator. This will obviously be a substantial raise for the 26-year old, one he has clearly earned.
2014-15 was the first full NHL season for Hoffman, and he responded in kind, with 27 goals and 48 points, helping the Senators to an unexpected playoff berth. Last year, arbitration seemed to light an even bigger fire under him, as he improved in almost every category. 29 goals and 59 points this time for Hoffman, and he’d established himself as a top-flight scoring forward deserved of a long-term deal.
If his development continues, it won’t be surprising to see Hoffman break the 30-goal plateau this season. His new deal is strikingly similar to the one another young RFA signed recently, when Brayden Schenn took four-years and $20.5MM from the Flyers, just $250K less than Hoffman’s deal. Schenn actually has a longer track record, is almost two years younger and is coming off a higher salary last season, making his deal look even more impressive for Philadelphia, but Hoffman’s goal totals give him the edge going forward.
The Senators now find themselves down to just a single unsigned RFA in Cody Ceci, with plenty of room left under the cap (the team operates on an internal budget, and will not hit the cap ceiling). After dealing for Dion Phaneuf last season, and sending Mika Zibanejad to New York for Derick Brassard, it looks as though the Senators are trying extremely hard to make the playoffs again next year, and owner Eugene Melnyk said as much just a few months ago.
If they get off to a rough start in 2016-17, it could be a fire-sale in Ottawa, as the front office has been very critical of the players on the ice. With an all-world player in Erik Karlsson entering his prime (as if he wasn’t in it already), the team needs to focus on the next few years.