Mike Hoffman Signs a PTO
Mike Hoffman the 30-goal scorer formerly of the Florida Panthers, decided to sing a short note and sign a 10-day Professional Tryout (PTO) with the St. Louis Blues. While the signing is not a complete surprise, the way he signed and the new magic that GM Doug Armstrong has created is very surprising.
The ten-day PTO which starts January 3rd allows Hoffman to practice with the team and still sign elsewhere if an opportunity arises. I guess that a deal may already be worked out between the two parties, but they will be waiting till the season starts. The Blues will have just a bit more cap space after putting Alexander Steen (retirement) and Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).
After Christmas Bargain Hunting
Armstrong went shopping at the after-Christmas sales and may have found the best bargain of them all. Hoffman, 31, was the top free agent still on the market in this strange COVID year. Hoffman may be betting on himself much like Taylor Hall did, going to Buffalo on a one year deal.
30 Goal scorers do not grow on musical stanza. Hoffman has 172 goals in 493 games to go along with 359 points.
Hoffman has spent the last three years in Florida where he has scored 87 goals and 185 points. Known as a one-way player, he has been in the National full time since 2014 after his call up to the Ottawa Senators.
While Hoffman can turn the Blue’s power-play into something special, the Blues are a defense-first team that might be a bit difficult for him to fit into. I look to the leadership of this group, including Head Coach Craig Berube to guide him in the way of the Note.
Hoffman has made the Play-offs just three times in his career, however, he might have missed them last year had COVID not intervened. The Blues are in a championship window the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Brett Hull, Chris Pronger, and Al MacInnis. The Blues are a veteran team that has won and is hungry for a second cup.
Hoffman does not come without baggage. During his time in Ottawa, a situation arose with his then-fiancé. She was accused of cyberbullying another of the player’s wives. Reportedly it caused a large rift in the locker room. One in which Ottawa felt it would be best served by trading Hoffman to the Panthers.
Along with the possibility of him not being a team type of player, his defense is atrocious. Hoffman’s career +/- – 7 is not as bad as it looks, However in his last three seasons with the Panthers he is -49.
+/- counts the number of goals scored while you are on the ice against the number of goals scored against your team, during 5 on 5. A minus is given if a shorthanded goal is scored against and a plus for shorthanded goals for.
I look for the Blues to place him on a line with new team captain Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. This line could be a strong line considering each player’s strengths. O’Reilly is perhaps the best two-way player in the league. Perron has shown he can be the superstar the Blues thought he would be when he was drafted 26th overall by the Blues in 2007.
A power-play unit featuring Hoffman, newly acquired Torey Krug, O’Reilly, Perron, and Colton Parayko could be deadly and maybe the best in the league. Assistant Coach Jim Montgomery, a power-play specialist, should be able to create two solid if not top-notch units.
Lou Korac of NHL.com noted that while the Blues will still need to sign Restricted Free Agent Vince Dunn this should not affect the potential contract and/or Dollar amount for Hoffman.
It is expected that Hoffman will ink a one-year deal, but if things turn out well, he could be offered an extension after March 12, the first day players on a one year deal can resign.
A move of this caliber is the kind Armstrong has made in the past including the one in which he was able to land the current captain O’Reilly.
Armstrong’s maneuvering allows the Blues to compete with the Colorado Avalanche who many think will win the division. Vegas who will battle the Blues for second could still lose a player or two, even after the retirement of Deryk Engelland.
The COVID-19 Cap has certainly made a mess of things, but it looks like Blues GM Armstrong may just have a trick or two up his sleeve.
I look for O’Reilly and Schenn to make an impression on Hoffman and show him what it takes to win the cup. It may be cliché but defense wins championships, and the Blues have one of the best in the league. It may have just gotten better with the signing of Hoffman. The Blues now have a player that if he buys into the system could generate offense from their defense and incredible fore-checking.
Let us see which Mike Hoffman shows up to camp. The one who wants a cup or the one who wants to get traded to a pretender by the deadline.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing
Photo credit: TSN.ca, Stl Gameday, NHL.com