After scoring 27 goals in 2014-15, Ottawa winger Mike Hoffman went to arbitration and was awarded a one-year, $2 million contract.
At the time, the Senators wanted to see if Hoffman could “do it again.” Which is to say, they weren’t 100 percent convinced. Otherwise, they might have tried harder to get him signed long term.
Well, Hoffman did it again. Despite the odd benching by Dave Cameron, he scored 29 goals in 2015-16, and that means decision time again for the club. The 26-year-old has rights to arbitration, and now he’s just one year away from unrestricted free agency.
Cameron, of course, isn’t around anymore. He was replaced by Guy Boucher, who just so happens to be Hoffman’s old junior coach.
So, could Boucher’s hiring help the Hoffman negotiations?
“I think it’s a bonus,” Senators GM Pierre Dorion said on Ottawa radio this morning. “I think our fans know that the relationship between Mike and the previous coaches wasn’t the greatest.
“But this team isn’t built around Mike Hoffman. This team is built around 20 players. So we’re going to do what’s right. … We’re going to work hard at it, but at the end of the day, if they want $10 million a year, well, we’ll say, ‘Mike, good luck, best of luck moving forward.'”
Dorion also said that he doesn’t want to go to arbitration again with Hoffman, so these next few weeks could be key in determining whether there’s a long-term relationship between player and club.
Boucher, by the way, was asked about Hoffman on Monday.
“Does he have things he can improve? Of course, but I’m so excited to be coaching him again. I know him,” the coach told Postmedia. “I know what to do with this guy and I know how to surround him.
“The questions that are asked are definitely on the negative side. I can see there’s some question marks about Mike. I just know in the past we’ve had a great relationship. Yeah, I pushed him, but I pushed him with respect because I cared like I did with all the other players and it turned out to be something good.”