The Ottawa Senators got almost exactly what they wanted from Mike Hoffman’s arbitration ruling — and it could cost them.
Hoffman will earn $2 million next season, which is significantly less than what you would expect a player to make after scoring 27 goals and 48 points. But there’s a difference between Hoffman and Marcus Johansson, who had 47 points last season and was awarded nearly twice as much in arbitration: The sample size.
Hoffman only had 29 games worth of NHL experience going into the 2014-15 campaign so whether or not he can maintain or build upon his 48-point campaign is in question. Of course, the same could be said for Stone, who had 64 points in his first full NHL campaign and received a three-year, $10.5 million deal from Ottawa, but Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion feels there are some noteworthy differences between the two young forwards.
“Mike’s road to the NHL has been a bit longer than Mark Stone,” Dorion told the Ottawa Citizen. “Stone was one of our best players in the second half last year and his play never tailed off. Mike’s play tailed off a bit in the second half (two goals in the last 16 games) and we want to see if Mike can do it again … we have a lot of confidence and faith Mike can do that next year.”
If Hoffman does do it again though, then the sample size arguments will weaken. At that point he’ll be in line for a considerable raise and a mid or long-term deal would likely come with a higher price tag than it would have been this summer.
For all the exciting additions made this offseason, the Washington Capitals still must cross their fingers about a few injury situations.
Most obviously, they need Nicklas Backstrom’s hip surgery rehab to go well.
While it doesn’t sound like Capitals GM Brian MacLellan is guaranteeing that the outstanding playmaker will be available at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, his update was still positive, as the Washington Post reports.
“I think he’s progressing well,” MacLellan said during a Monday conference call. “I heard he started skating recently, so that’s a good sign.”
(Note: there’s no guarantee that Backstrom won’t be ready by the season-opener, either.)
Backstrom’s situation is still a work in progress, but it sounds like things are going especially well for hard-hitting defenseman Brooks Orpik. MacLellan noted that Orpik previously “managed” a wrist injury, finally decided to undergo surgery on it, and is expected to be “100 percent healthy” to start 2015-16.
There are quite a few reasons for Capitals fans to be optimistic about next season, and positive health news should only brighten those outlooks. Plenty can change in the next few months, yet it sounds like the word is so far, so good.
Marcus Johansson was handed a one-year, $3.75 million contract in arbitration, but there’s been speculation that Washington’s offseason additions might eat into his playing time in 2015-16. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan doesn’t see that as inevitable.
“We just have a deeper top six and you’re going to have to play well and it’ll be hard to keep your job there,” MacLellan told the Washington Post. “He’s going to have to play well from the start.”
At the same time, MacLellan believes that Johansson can maintain a spot on one of Washington’s top two lines and serve on the first power-play unit. The general manager even hinted at Johansson’s role actually expanding as the 24-year-old might help kill penalties.
Washington added Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie over the summer and both of them are expected to serve as top-six forwards along with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. So when everyone is healthy, that will leave just one slot for Johansson or Andre Burakovsky.
Johansson had 20 goals and 47 points in 82 contests last season while averaging 16:28 minutes per contest.