By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins are among the list of teams ‘most interested’ in free agent winger Mike Hoffman, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
Still on the open market after the first weekend of free agency, and after a 29-goal season with the Florida Panthers this past season, the 30-year-old Hoffman seems willing to go to the Taylor Hall route should a team offer him what he believes to be market value.
“One player who has held firm on his value and his belief is Mike Hoffman,” Seravalli said on Tuesday’s ‘Insider Trading’ segment on TSN. “[Hoffman] is somewhere probably between $5.5 million and $6.5 million on a one-year deal. A guy who averages 27 goals a season. He can be had on that one-year deal. The teams that are most interested at this point are the Boston Bruins, the Columbus Blue Jackets and also the Nashville Predators.”
(Seravalli also went on to mention the Canucks and Canadiens as two teams with interest if they’re able to shed cash elsewhere.)
The market’s top remaining left-shot, left wing, Hoffman has been a lock for at least 20 goals for half a decade now, with at least 22 goals in six straight seasons dating back to 2014, and with a career-best 36 goals and 70 points for the Panthers in 2018-19.
And if signed by the Bruins, Hoffman would slot in somewhere similar to where Hall was projected, likely with David Krejci on the B’s second line. Defense is the issue for Hoffman, really, as he’s never been considered a capable presence in his own zone. But the Bruins could theoretically work around that by feeding a Krejci-Hoffman combo offensive-zone starts, which is something Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has done in the past with his second line.
The Bruins could certainly afford Hoffman at that price mentioned by Seravalli, too, with over $11 million in cap space as of right now.
What that would potentially mean for restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk, still without a deal and with the Bruins also looking to work out a deal for defender Matt Grzelcyk, is the real question. It’s almost impossible to imagine how the Bruins would manage to retain DeBrusk should Hoffman sign with Boston, though it would be possible for the Bruins to trade some of their other left wings (Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie) or move a defenseman (John Moore) to free up some cap room, though the return would have to be next to nothing in such a scenario.
But it may be the corner the Bruins have backed themselves into when it comes to building a more offensively-capable squad for 2020-21, especially with the word that Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are likely to miss the start of next season.
Hoffman has 172 goals and 359 points in 493 career games, and 10 goals and 19 points in 29 career playoff games.