Revisiting Star Free Agent Mike Hoffman’s Potential Fit With Bruins

Should the Bruins make a run at Hoffman? Our conclusion: Yes


Dec 17, 2020

We’re going to level with you: For a long, long time, we’ve balked at the idea of the Boston Bruins signing Mike Hoffman.

Sure, he’s a sharpshooter who puts up well over 20 goals with relative ease. But when we first really tackled this idea back in October, it always felt like his price was going to be too high, especially for a guy with his share of troubles in the defensive end.

We’re here to tell you we’ve backed off of that resistance. Point blank, if the Bruins can do it, they should sign him.

This idea is not out of the clouds, we’ll concede. Ex-NHLer Dave Poulin appeared on TSN’s “That’s Hockey” earlier in the week and raved about Hoffman’s natural fit with the Bruins.

He’s right.

We’ll get to the on-ice aspect in a moment, but what’s felt like the non-starter in all of this was the money.

Hoffman had 29 goals and 30 assists in 69 regular season games, numbers that certainly positioned him for a pay raise from the nearly $5.2 million a year he was making the last four seasons.

But the forward market has been ghastly, and if things fall into place as hoped, we’re inside of a month from the start of the season. That will drive Hoffman’s price down — to the point it could sink, we think, well below that $5.2 million figure.

Enter the Bruins, who, according to CapFriendly, have $2.98 million in cap space. Hoffman’s price won’t sink that low, meaning money would have to be moved out somewhere. A resolution also needs to be reached on the Zdeno Chara situation.

But the truth of the matter is now more than ever, the Bruins are positioned to make a legitimate run at Hoffman. His agent is on the record saying he’s agreeable to a one-year deal, which would allow the Bruins to sign Hoffman for the upcoming campaign, then go back to the drawing board in the offseason — when David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, among other players’, current deals are up.

Signing Hoffman isn’t a move a team makes purely for injury insurance, but it certainly would soften the blow the Bruins currently face. Brad Marchand might miss the beginning of the season, while David Pastrnak is expected to be out into February. Adding Hoffman gives the Bruins a top-line stopgap for the early months.

Then when players are healthy, he can slide to either the second or third line, giving Krejci or Charlie Coyle a shot-happy winger the likes of which they haven’t played alongside lately, if ever. Paired with the right players, Hoffman’s defensive shortcomings could be covered up to a degree, though they wouldn’t disappear altogether.

If the below picture of a healthy Bruins forward group — as we discussed at length in the latest “NESN Bruins Podcast” (shameless plug: please listen, subscribe, rate and review) — doesn’t tickle Boston fans, we don’t know what will.

Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak
Mike Hoffman–David Krejci–Ondrej Kase
Jake DeBrusk–Charlie Coyle–Craig Smith
Anders Bjork–Sean Kuraly–Chris Wagner

Not bad!

That would be, almost without question, the best forward group in the NHL. They would have Nick Ritchie and Par Lindholm as spares, and that doesn’t even account for near-NHL ready forward prospects like Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic. The overall depth would be absurd.

So are there hurdles to a Bruins pursuit of Hoffman? Yes. Multiple, in fact. But the Bruins’ metaphorical window for a championship still is open, and the addition of Hoffman would keep it well ajar in 2021.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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