Over the course of the off season, Ottawa Senators General Manager Bryan Murray is going to need to make some tough decisions about who stays and who goes. With nine unrestricted free agents and another twelve that are restricted, it’s pretty clear that not everybody is going to be back next season.
One of the more interesting decisions will be what the Senators decide to do with Mike Hoffman.
The 24 year old Kitchener native is coming off a season where he was finally able to show he can take a regular shift at the NHL level. Appearing in 25 games with the big team, Hoffman’s speed and hockey sense made him a solid fit in the team’s top six forwards. Head Coach Paul MacLean clearly liked what he saw, using Hoffman as a point man on the team’s power play down the stretch. While he finished the season with just six points, he looked more than comfortable playing with the team’s best players.
And as impressive as he was at the NHL level, Hoffman was even better in the American Hockey League. Hoffman was named to the AHL’s first all-star team thanks to a 30 goal, 67 point performance during his 51 games with the Binghamton Senators. The BSens could certainly use him during the Calder Cup playoffs but because he had to clear waivers to be sent back down, the Ottawa Senators weren’t willing to risk losing him for nothing.
That alone is a pretty good indication that he is in the team’s plans heading into next season.
When Hoffman signed his last contract, a one year/two way deal, everybody sort of agreed it was his last chance to prove himself in the Senators organization. And he came through in a big way, putting together a career year and finally earning an extended call up.
And now with that one year deal coming to an end, Hoffman (a restricted free agent) will be looking for a new contract this summer. Assuming they plan to keep him in the mix, the decision Bryan Murray will have to make comes down to a one way or two way deal. With an impressive season as leverage, you know Hoffman will be looking to land a one way contract that earns him a regular spot in the big team’s line up next season. Milan Michalek has occupied one of the team’s left wing spots the past few seasons but appears ready to test free agency which could open up a regular spot for Hoffman next year.
It’s safe to assume Hoffman will be back but whether it’s on a one way or two way deal remains to be seen. A quick look at the depth chart shows the team may be a little light at the wing position heading into next season but for a budget conscious team, that may mean a good opportunity for young guys like Hoffman to earn a regular spot in the line up.
Where do you see Mike Hoffman fitting in with the team next season? If you were Bryan Murray, would you give him a one way deal?
-Game 3 of the Binghamton Senators first round series against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins goes tonight in Wilkes-Barre. The BSens may have a familiar face back in the line up as Jim O’Brien is expected to return after missing the last 17 games with an injury. Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Friday night in Wilkes-Barre. Here’s how Head Coach Luke Richardson had his forwards lined up at yesterday’s practice.
#BSens lines: Schneider-DaCosta-Stone; Prince-Pageau-Robinson; Dziurzynski-Grant-O’Brien; Kramer-Hamilton-Cowick; Puempel-Dzingel-Thompson
— PSBSens (@PSBSens) April 29, 2014