Florida Panthers: Exploring the Possibility of a Mike Hoffman Trade
With a surplus of talented forwards, the Florida Panthers may consider moving winger Mike Hoffman this offseason.
Mike Hoffman, acquired just last year from San Jose, has been an absolute bargain for the Florida Panthers. Putting offseason drama behind him, Hoffman had a career season in Florida, posting career highs in goals (36), points (70), power-play goals (18), and power-play points (35).
Always capable of grabbing a point in a clutch moment, Hoffman also put up his second-best game-winning goal tally with six and tied his overtime game-winning goal mark with three.
Despite mid-season trade rumors, the Panthers kept Mike Hoffman around, and to good effect. He shook off a poor month of January with 27 points in 31 games across the months of February and March. Now, these trade rumors may swirl back up again as the Panthers look to improve as a team.
Hoffman’s trade value last offseason was low after a pretty disappointing season in Ottawa and locker room controversy surrounding the wives of both Hoffman and teammate Erik Karlsson.
Now, with career-high numbers and a clean slate, with just one year remaining on his four-year/$20.75 million extension, a lot of teams can take a flyer on the forward the way Florida did.
Now, the Panthers have no reason to give up their #68, as he’s helped improve the power play over the course of just one season. This is why the team never gave him up during last season’s trade deadline; it seemed he made the team better.
The biggest problem with the Panthers at the moment is their defense. The Cats have the cap room to improve the backline, but this year’s free agency class doesn’t exactly feature the best defensive-defensemen to sign, with San Jose’s Erik Karlsson headlining the list.
The Panthers look like they will target Columbus’ Artemi Panarin; with the opportunity of a superstar, who has experience under Joel Quenneville and good chemistry with first-liner Evgenii Dadonov, things remain very tempting in the Panarin sweepstakes.
The Panthers’ top six would then be Panarin, Dadonov, Hoffman, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Vincent Trocheck.
This would surely make one of these players expendable to help bolster the rest of the roster. The Panthers’ defense was mixed in with the worst in the NHL last season, and using Hoffman to acquire another defenseman could greatly improve the Panthers.
There are multiple teams that would love to acquire the services of Mike Hoffman if available. Hoffman’s impact on the Panthers hasn’t gone unnoticed, with his 36 goals placing him tied for 18th for goals this season, level with superstars Johnny Gaudreau and Brad Marchand.
I’ve mentioned Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba a lot lately, but the Jets would need the cap space to retain a lot of their RFAs in their forward core.
The Jets would be reduced to just a projected $20 million in cap space, which would likely mean Hoffman would be a consolation prize for the loss of Kyle Connor.
I’ve also mentioned Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson; but, realistically, the only way this trade happens would be a 1-for-1.
The idea works in theory, as Arizona would lose Hjalmarsson’s cap to be able to re-sign Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer, who would both be RFAs the year Hoffman’s contract expires.
Arizona was 27th in the league in goals for, while Florida was 27th in goals against. Florida and Arizona do have a decent trade relationship, with the two exchanging mid-value pieces like Jason Demers and Jamie McGinn over the last few years.
Another team in need of a forward are the New York Islanders. The Islanders, if they miss on Panarin, would have around $29 million to bring back Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle, and Robin Lehner.
This would leave them with enough money to bring in Hoffman for a year, as his contract would free up at the same time they would need to extend young center Mathew Barzal.
The Panthers could likely move for Nick Leddy, who’s around the same age as Hoffman and makes roughly $300k more but is locked into that contract for another two years.
With the emergence of younger pieces like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews under the mentorship of head coach Barry Trotz, the Isles’ defense has grown significantly younger, which means they could move on from Leddy.
There are a lot of other trades that could still happen, as Hoffman’s value may be much higher within organizations than anticipated in trade talks.
Overall, the Panthers moving on from Hoffman wouldn’t necessarily be a need, but it could certainly help strengthen the rest of the squad.