Islander fans have seen a lot of what Mike Hoffman can do in this short series. As I write this he has 2 goals and an assist in the 3 playoff qualifying games played so far. Hoffman is very good on the power play which happens to be just what the Islanders need. Could the Islanders bring Hoffman to the Island?
Who Is He?
Mike Hoffman is a 30-year-old underrated left-winger from Kitchener, Ontario. He played with Ottawa for 7 years before being traded in 2018 to San Jose. This was because of an incident with Erik Karlsson’s wife, Melinda Karlsson, and Mike Hoffman’s fiancée, Monika Caryk. San Jose then moved Hoffman to Florida to clear cap space. San Jose eventually used this cap space to acquire Erik Karlsson from the Senators. Is your head spinning right now? Because same.
Hoffman is very fast and has a very good shot. Hoffman has really stepped up his game since his move to Florida. In his first year with the Panthers he scored a career high 36 goals and had a career high 70 points. He was having another good season with 59 points with 13 games remaining before the suspension of play.
He is not only good in the regular season, but he also seems to enjoy the big stage. In the playoffs, he has a career 16 points in 27 games. Half of those points have been goals. Islander fans have seen just how deadly he can be so far in this playoff series (qualifier).
Islanders Perfect Fit
The Islanders were 25th in powerplay percentage in the league and could really use a sniper like Hoffman. While Barzal can create many chances the Islanders have lacked for finishing. Hoffman was tied for 11th in the league in powerplay goals in the regular season. He was tied with 11 PPG with Patrice Bergeron, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid. Adding him to Barzal’s left with Eberle to the right would be a game-changer.
Cap Space issue
Islanders need to sign Mat Barzal, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock this off-season and they only have a projected cap space of $8,119,167. This will not be an easy task which could lead to many trades and maybe some buyouts.
Who makes way?
Expiring contracts like Brassard, Kuhnhackl, Greene, Martin and Greiss could definitely help. Even if they keep Kuhnhackl and Greene (which I think they should), they should not be spending more than $2 million for both. Greiss will be replaced by Ilya Sorokin and Brassard has already been replaced by Pageau. Greene could make a cheap option as a 6th or 7th defenseman. Greene was making $5 million which they can negotiate down to around $1 million since he is 37. Kuhnkackl is making $850,000 which is fair. All told this would free up $11,033,333 in cap space which could be enough to re-sign Barzal.
Signing Greene would allow the Islanders to shop Hickey and Leddy who are making $2.5 million and $5.5 million respectively. Hickey is definitely a hard sell since he is 31 and has not seen much NHL ice time in the last 2 years. However, Hickey still could be a cheap upgrade for many teams who struggled defensively this season. On the other hand, Leddy is definitely a viable option to trade away. He is 29, has won a Cup with Chicago and still is one of the fastest skating d-men out there. Trading both for draft picks could free up $8 million in cap space.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, the new CBA does not include compliance buyouts which would have allowed them to buy out players without it counting against their salary cap. This will most likely leave the Islanders stuck with Johnny Boychuk’s massive $6 million a year contract and Andrew Ladd’s $5.5 million a year contract. Ladd and Boychuk both have big no-trade lists. Both players are ageing and very injury prone. Boychuk is 36 with 2 years left on the contract after this season. Ladd is 34 with 3 years left on his contract after this season. Both will most likely see out the rest of their contracts with the Islanders.
Hoffman is currently making $5,187,500 a year and is an unrestricted free agent this off-season. He is 30-years-old so he will probably want a long-term contract. If the Islanders do offer him more years they can justify offering less money per year. They can also structure the contract so that he makes less the 1st year so that he can fit within the cap.
Given the current market, Hoffman could be worth as much up to $6.5 million. $5.5 million would be a fair price for Hoffman considering the current flat cap. However, I think if the Islanders offer Hoffman a long-term deal they could negotiate down to around $7.5 million.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, they have overpaid for many players who have not lived up to the billing (Lee, Clutterbuck, Komarov, Ladd). Lou Lamoriello will have to work some magic for the Islanders have enough money to sign Barzal, Pulock and Toews nevermind Hoffman. While the fit looks perfect on paper and could take the Islanders to the next level, it seems unlikely. Hoffman most likely will not find himself on the Islanders.
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