NHL: How is Mike Hoffman Still Available?

It is a month into free agency and Mike Hoffman is still on the market. Stranger things have happened, but this is kind of confounding for a number of reasons.

The 30-year-old forward from Kitchener spent the last two seasons as a member of the Florida Panthers. He put up 59 points in 60 games last season and is definitely the most potent offensive forward remaining in the batch of free agents.

In 493 career NHL games, Hoffman has 172 goals and 187 assists for a total of 359 points with the Ottawa Senators and Panthers.

Hoffman was drafted by the Senators in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

So what’s the issue? Why hasn’t anyone shown interest in Hoffman?

First of all, teams have been interested. The not-so-small matter of the flat salary cap has made things difficult for clubs looking to sign a player of Hoffman’s prowess, however.

In 2019-2020, he tacked up a cap hit of $5.1875 million. That could be a fair shade more than certain teams want to spend, especially with the pandemic driving finances and futures.

That means any team that wants Hoffman will have to free up cap space via a trade or make some fancy moves using the injured reserve list.

According to Hoffman’s agent Robert Hooper, about 13 teams were interested in his client. That was last month, so says The Athletic. Five or six of those teams were “serious” about signing the forward, but nothing has materialized. We don’t know how that list of teams has evolved or if it has, but we do know that Hoffman is still sitting.

That could mean that he’s game to sign a one-year pact with the Panthers and go the Taylor Hall route to test a potentially more robust market next year.

Hoffman has no issues waiting right up until the doorstep of next season, too, and teams know that. Depending on how the coronavirus pandemic shakes out in the upcoming weeks or months, that could mean waiting until January or later.

Among the teams we know with a “serious” interest in Hoffman’s services are the Panthers and Nashville Predators. The Predators have $12.9 million in cap space and look to be in good shape, while the Panthers have about $8.3 million in cap space.

Image: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

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