Ottawa Senators Front Office Should be Very Worried

Mar 23, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) passes the puck past New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) passes the puck past New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has a lot of pressure on him this offseason. The uncertain futures of Mike Hoffman and Cody Ceci are largely resting on how he handles these next handful of weeks, and any ill-advised maneuvers could have big repercussions for this team’s fate.

Hoffman and Ceci are two young building blocks that the Senators would love to utilize going forward, but that’s where the plan starts getting vague.

Hoffman is most likely playing next season in a Senators uniform, but if he ends up being awarded another 1 year contract in arbitration, then he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next season.

With back-to-back offseason duels between Hoffman and the Senators’ front office, it stands to reason that the speedy sniper would feel disillusioned at the team’s unwillingness to view him as a long-term option.

If another team throws money at Hoffman next offseason, he could easily bolt, leaving the Senators to painfully reel in the dismay of losing a 30 goal-caliber scorer.

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“Sometimes I feel there’s a sense of panic and we’ve never lost a player going to UFA,” Dorion said. “I can’t see us losing a player like this,” continued Dorion, referring to Hoffman.

He’s alluding to his long-term deals negotiated with Craig Anderson, Marc Methot, Bobby Ryan, and Clarke MacArthur. The empirical evidence is certainly on his side, but Dorion should still proceed cautiously regarding the Hoffman situation.

The two sides can still negotiate before the arbitration hearing, and the good news is that as things stand now, Hoffman will spend at least one more season with the Senators. Whether he ends up being a part of their long term vision is questionable, though.

Hoffman has been their leading goal scorer for the past two seasons, and the Senators have enjoyed his production at an incredible discount relative to what most other goal scorers of his level are making around the league.

The Hoffman situation is really revealing how much the Senators value him. If he does end up being an unrestricted free agent next summer and leaves, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.

As of the Summer of 2016, they simply don’t view Hoffman as a long term piece of their vision for the future. If they did, this deal would be done by now.

His inconsistencies and propensity to wilt down the stretch are valid reasons for being hesitant to reward him with a long-term contract, but the team needs to be willing to accept the consequences of their actions.

If Hoffman gets a 1 year deal and proceeds to score 35-40 goals next season, they’ll have to look in the mirror and take responsibility if this talented player leaves.

They’re essentially planting a stake in where they think Hoffman’s ceiling is. Clearly Dorion and the front office sees him plateauing as a talented yet frustrating 25-30 goal scorer who can’t be counted on in big moments.

They’re entitled to their own opinion, but they’re going to look extremely foolish if Hoffman spends one more year in Ottawa, scores 40 goals, and leaves.

It’s a gamble for sure, and right now, they don’t view Hoffman as an elite goal scorer in the NHL worthy of that type of money.

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Dorion should be very nervous despite his confident demeanor. This could significantly set the franchise back if he makes the wrong move with Hoffman.