Mike Hoffman, ranked No. 4 among PHR’s Top 50 UFA’s this off-season, is undoubtedly the best player still available on the open market. The topic of almost daily speculation, everyone wants to know where the top goal scorer on the free agent market will end up. Well, the waiting may continue for a quite a while longer. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Hoffman and his camp are willing to be patient and wait for a deal that measures up to the veteran forward’s ability. Just how long will they wait? Potentially until after the season begins, currently projected for early January.
LeBrun notes that there are a number of potential suitors for Hoffman’s services who may “circle back” on Hoffman once they are able to place current players on Long-Term Injured Reserve. That would allow for teams to open up the cap space required to add Hoffman. Among the teams mentioned as potential landing spots in this scenario are the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues. The Blues and Oilers do not have nearly the space to afford Hoffman currently, but will gain space with Vladimir Tarasenko and Oscar Klefbom, respectively, potentially out for the year. The Bruins have the room to sign Hoffman right now, but still need to re-sign restricted free agent forward Jake DeBrusk and may still address the left side of the blue line. However, they can open up more space and start accruing some cap savings with David Pastrnak likely to miss a month or two.
Meanwhile, LeBrun states that the Florida Panthers, Hoffman’s most recent club, and the Nashville Predators continue to call about Hoffman. It would seem that neither team has been willing to ante up to land the six-time 20-goal scorer, otherwise a deal would be done. If they were to up their offers, Hoffman could certainly sign sooner than January.
Suspiciously absent from LeBrun’s report are the Columbus Blue Jackets, who cleared cap space earlier this off-season and stated their intent to add a top free agent forward. So far, they have not done that. Columbus could be waiting until new contracts are sorted out with RFA’s Pierre-Luc Dubois and Vladislav Gavrikov, but one would think that the team will jump into the mix for Hoffman at some point if they have not done so already.
For now, Hoffman is content to wait out the market. The 30-year-old may wind up settling for a one-year deal and hitting the market again next summer, but he does not seem willing to take a discount on his next contract, regardless of the term. In an off-season that has been filled with team-friendly deals given the ramifications of the flat cap, Hoffman is hoping to be an exception.