The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, April 12 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be moved by then. We continue today with St. Louis Blues forward Mike Hoffman.
When the Blues snagged free agent forward Mike Hoffman late in the offseason it seemed like it had the potential to be a steal of a contract.
He was coming off a two-year run with Florida Panthers where he scored 65 goals in 151 games, was one of the top free agents available, and they were able to get him on a one-year deal for just $4 million. In a normal offseason with the expected increase in the salary cap he might have been a $5-6 million per year player on a multi-year contract. But the Blues were able to get him for a bargain and add a pure goal scorer to a lineup that expected to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Instead, a season full of injuries and some inconsistent goaltending has the Blues on the playoff bubble (and currently on the outside of the playoff picture in the West Division) while Hoffman has not really proven to be a fit in coach Craig Berube’s system. He has nine goals and 12 assists in 36 games — numbers that are down for him across the board — and has found himself as a healthy scratch recently.
As a pending unrestricted free agent that will probably not be re-signed, he seems like a definite trade candidate ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
He has not fit for the Blues, but could he make an impact for somebody else?
Let us take a look.
[Related: ProHockeyTalk’s 2021 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]
What the return might look like
Hoffman’s value is tied entirely to his ability to score goals. He is not a strong defensive player, not a great playmaker, and will not going to carry his line.
He does, however, finish. If put into a sheltered role defensively where he can focus on scoring goals he could still make a pretty big impact for somebody during the stretch run and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is some value in that. But how much value? Given his age, UFA status, limited ability to make an impact without the puck, and the fact his numbers are down across the board this is probably a couple of draft picks? Maybe two seconds? A second and a third?
The most logical landing spots: Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild
Thinking of teams that need goal scoring depth. Hoffman may not be a great fit in terms of style for the Bruins, but they desperately need somebody else that can put the puck in the net. That is Hoffman’s best skill.
The Oilers have two MVP candidates in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they remain a decidedly average (maybe a little above average) team because the depth around them is so bland. Another finisher could help.
Minnesota is intriguing because they need to do something to fix a power play unit that has been awful all season. While Hoffman has just one power play goal this season, he has excelled in that area throughout his career.
Wild Card Team: Nashville Predators
Nashville went from being a seller to a potential buyer practically overnight. They are now in a playoff position and look to be in the driver’s seat for that fourth playoff spot in the Central Division. Like Minnesota, they could use some help on the power play (though that unit has been better) and Hoffman would be a low-risk, low-investment, potentially high-reward addition.
Team I want to see just for fun: Florida Panthers
Do the Panthers NEED Hoffman? Probably not. They let him go in the offseason and have been one of the best teams in the league since. But they have a ton of salary cap space to play with, have what might be the best team in the history of the franchise (no exaggeration), and have a chance to maybe make a run in the playoffs. Go for it and get some extra help when you can.
NHL Trade Deadline Prediction
The Bruins had interest in Hoffman during the offseason and still need offense, so they make sense. Especially after they already missed out on Kyle Palmieri, leaving their rental options as Hoffman or Taylor Hall. Hoffman would be cheaper against the cap, probably in terms of assets, and could leave the Bruins with enough salary cap flexibility to make another move elsewhere.
Even if the Blues are not ready to give up on this season they could use the surplus picks acquired here to flip for something else if they still wanted to add.
Hoffman gets a change of scenery.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.