The Columbus Blue Jackets have officially signed Gregory Hofmann to a one-year contract after reports emerged last month that he was heading to North America. The deal will carry a cap hit of $900K according to CapFriendly and leaves Hofmann an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season.
Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in February, Hofmann is already 28, but his draft rights never expired thanks to a lack of transfer agreement between the NHL and Switzerland’s National League. He had been picked 103rd overall way back in 2011 by the Hurricanes, but never signed, playing the last ten years overseas instead. Now, after his latest outstanding campaign for Zug EV, in which he recorded 41 points in 36 games, Hofmann is finally ready to test himself in North America.
Even if you’ve never watched a second of Swiss hockey, you’ve probably still seen Hofmann on the international stage. He has represented his country twice at the World Juniors, four times at the World Championships and once at the Olympics in 2018. In this most recent IIHF tournament, he scored six goals in eight games, tied for third behind Andrew Mangiapane and Liam Kirk. Offense is where he will make his money in the NHL, should he make it that far, as Hofmann is one of the most consistent scoring threats in Switzerland. In 2018-19 he reached a career-high of 30 goals in just 50 games, leading the entire league. No goal was more important than his final tally this season though, which clinched the league title for Zug.
On the surface, this is a move that has a chance to pay off quickly for the Blue Jackets. Hofmann has the potential to be a real contributor at the NHL level, especially on the powerplay, helping the team cure some of their goal-scoring ails. Still, there have been too many cases of European players coming and failing in North America to guarantee anything for the 5’10” forward, even if he has shown well against NHL talent internationally in the past.