The Columbus Blue Jackets announced they made a small trade, acquiring the signing rights to Swiss forward Gregory Hofmann from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round pick. Hofmann is expected to stay with his NL team for the rest of his season, but The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports that he could join the Blue Jackets after his season ends, if that is before the Blue Jackets’ regular season ends.
This isn’t a trade, however, for the signing rights to a college player who doesn’t want to sign with the team that drafted him. Hofmann is 28 years old and was drafted in the fourth round by the Hurricanes back in 2011. Because he is Swiss, the forward’s rights never left Carolina. Hofmann has never played in North America and has not signed with the team all these years, spending his entire 12-year career with the NL, including the last two years with Zug EV.
What makes him even more intriguing for Columbus is that he spent four years playing with Blue Jackets’ goaltender Elvis Merzlikins with Lugano from 2015 to 2019, which could be the main reason that he has expressed interest in playing for Columbus. Portzline notes that the timing to Hofmann joining Columbus this year will be quite tight as the Swiss League regular season ends on May 4 and Zug EV is currently in first place in the league and likely to go to the playoffs.
Hofmann has dominated as a top forward in the past few seasons, scoring 70 goals in 132 games over the past three years. He has had eight seasons of double-digit goals.
Michael Smith of NHL.com was the first to report the trade.