Mike Hoffman has filed for arbitration today, meaning that if him and the Ottawa Senators cannot agree on a deal from now until his hearing in August, then an independent arbitrator will settle his contract for next season. The whole contract situation with Hoffman has been quite odd, as the Senators were eager to lock up Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but not their leading goal scorer from last season.
There are a few reasons for that and number one is money. He reportedly wants a lot on his next contract, and I don’t really blame him. What “a lot” is we don’t know, but if he is asking for say $4-4.5 million, then it really isn’t that large of a price. Considering he has only played one full season, I wouldn’t give him that kind of money just yet, but that’s what negotiating is for.
The team signed Stone for $3.5 million, and I doubt they will give Hoffman more than that. They will want a short one or two-year deal, and I think that anything around Stone’s cap hit is reasonable for both sides. If Hoffman plays even better in the next season or two, then he will surely get his big pay-day. But for now, it’s hard to blame Ottawa for playing hard ball.
At the same time, I wonder what they consider a big cap hit. Because we know that Dave Cameron and presumably some of the front office aren’t the biggest fans of his. He has put on the fourth line for much of the later part of the season, and he isn’t exactly talked up by the ever-positive Bryan Murray. So while it isn’t surprising that the two sides would be off on money, it doesn’t really paint the entire picture.
I have always had a gut feeling that Hoffman would be on the move in the off-season, and perhaps something will happen. Yesterday on twitter, Tyler Ray had some interesting rumours about him. But first of all, these are simply rumours. I don’t know how reliable his sources are, but it does sound like something Ottawa would do. Take what he says with a grain of salt, but don’t be surprised if Hoffman gets traded in a move like he suggests:
So he dropped quite the bombshell on Senators fans yesterday, and of course it got people excited. Obviously I think the biggest takeaway from this is that Murray might actually be trying hard to fix the defense. If that’s the case, then that is a great sign because it is clearly the teams weakness. If they are able to add someone of Kevin Shattenkirk‘s ability then their defense becomes very good all of a sudden.
The only problem is, it would be a tough pill to swallow for Ottawa. Hoffman would be hard to replace as he is a very fast skater that can score lots of goals in the top-six. Furthermore, if they had to include Patrick Wiercioch in the deal then I’m not sure it’s even worth it.
Wiercioch has shown he’s a top-four defenseman at least, so a trade where he is moved would be a bit of an upgrade on defense but a massive downgrade at forward. It would be very hard to get Shattenkirk out of St. Louis, which is why it’s almost too hard to believe. But at the same time, if Jared Cowen is a second main piece (along with something else) in the deal then I would do it without hesitation.Jan 30, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; St. Louis Blues defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk (22) celebrates his shoot goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The St. Louis Blues defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Plus some teams haven’t been getting the greatest return on star players recently (TJ Oshie, Phil Kessel, etc.) so I wonder if Ottawa actually does have the pieces this time for a big deal. They would most likely have to include a draft pick or prospect in there as well, but that’s worth giving up.
At the end of the day, I find it hard to believe that the Senators would be able to acquire Shattenkirk. But at the same time, if Murray is in fact interested in a young top-four defenseman then I bet he will go and get one. He may not be at the level of Fowler or Shattenkirk just yet, but that means it won’t cost as much.
I have to say, although it isn’t great seeing the team being so down on Hoffman, it is nice that they (apparently) see the need for another defenseman in order to compete. How they offset the loss for Hoffman is another story, but I would much rather have to worry about the forwards than defense. If a young defenseman is coming to Ottawa in a package involving Hoffman and Cowen then I am all for it. If Wiercioch is in it then I would be quite hesitant, although it would depend on the overall trade.
The thing with a trade is that because Hoffman has filed for arbitration, he can’t be traded until he has a contract. That may be in the next couple days, or it could be a month from now when the hearing is. But it looks like no deal is imminent, and we may have to wait a while to see if there is any action.
Murray and the management team don’t seem too high on Hoffman, so I can definitely imagine a sign-and-trade scenario sometime within the next month. If it means getting a young stud defenseman then it could be a genius move. Whether or not they are able to pry someone away we do not know, but I’m sure they will try. Furthermore, you have every right to not believe these rumours. But if it does come to fruition, Tyler Ray deserves some credit and we should at least keep an eye on the situation.