• Marcus Bender

You're Mike Hoffman. Where Would You Like To Play Next Season?

You’re Mike Hoffman. What's going on in your mind?

You just came off your second straight 35-goal pace season. You’ve established

yourself as one of the top snipers in the game. And you remain the most valuable unsigned asset on the market.

There’s only one problem. None of the Contenders have any significant Cap Space left, and you’re not really interested in helping a team rebuild. You’re 30 years old. Almost 31. You’re one of the top snipers in the League. You want to win now.

You also want a shot at scoring 35 goals again. Because you'll probably have to go through this decision again next year.

Covid really changed the Free Agency landscape. With the Cap not going up, and no clear indication it ever will, the value you had counted on at the beginning of last season has completely evaporated.

You’re Mike Hoffman, 35-goal scorer. But the most you’re looking at being able to make is $5 Million, maybe $5.5 Million.

Hey, it could be worse. You wanted to make more, but this is probably the reality.

You also have to remember, and you hate to admit this for sure. But there is a stigma attached to your name. Whatever happened in Ottawa, whether it was your fault or not, and there is plenty of evidence to believe it was not, you still have a shroud of negativity floating around you.

You would like to change that.

You’re Mike Hoffman. You're the hottest free agent left on the market. How can you show the haters what you're made of?

You know what to do. You've been doing it your whole career. You go out, and you score 35 goals again. That’s what you do.

You fit yourself onto the wing of a playmaking center, and you pound one-timers over and over again at the net. And you put up 35. Three straight seasons with 35 ain't luck anymore.

So, here’s what you do: You take a short-term $5 Million deal. Find a Team and a player with whom you can tear it up. Put all these ghosts behind you, put your head down, and score some goals. Make them cheer your name.

The Colorado Avalanche

Now there's an idea. The Colorado Avalanche. They're definite contenders, with probably the best player in the entire game. They have $5.9 Million Cap Space. They are one piece away from a serious run.

You are Mike Hoffman. You could be that piece.

That sounds tempting. Oh, so tempting.

But, just a moment. Mikko Rantanen plays on the right side of MacKinnon and the Power Play. That would leave open only...

Second Line duties with Nazem Kadri. Not bad, but maybe not great. It’s going to be hard to repeat 35 goals on the Second Line.

The Avs are high on the "win now" factor; low on the "score a lot of goals" factor. Are there any other options?

New York Islanders

How about the New York Islanders?

These guys are great. They went to the Conference Finals. Matt Barzal is sick, and he needs a dance partner. Maybe you're the guy to push them over the top? You've always liked New York City.

But, just a moment. The Islanders are a very system based team. You want to have a crack at hitting 35 goals. Maybe Long Island isn’t the place to do it.

Florida Panthers

Why not just stay in Florida? You know your role there. No reason to think it will be changed. You are already a key cog on an offensive minded team. There are couple of new faces there too, like Hornqvist, Hinostronza and Nutivaara.

You know your role there. But that’s the problem. You’ve done this for two seasons, and for two straight seasons the result has been relatively the same. You know what you're getting with these Panthers:

Your D can’t cover the net to save their lives, and your Goalie has to let in 5 every night. You want to win now. You don’t want to have to score 6 every night to do it.

Seattle Kraken

Who knows the mechanism which could be used to bring you here, but now wouldn't this be a pretty cool gig?

You get to be a part of history. And don't forget the Golden Knights went to the Finals in their first year.

If you somehow ended up on the Kraken it might not be all that bad. You'll most likely be the top dog. You'll get all the looks. This might be your choice to show you can lead a team.

Or, how about the...

Columbus Blue Jackets

You’ve heard Torts is a real hard-ass, but if you want to win now…

This Team has proven all the haters wrong. The tandem of Jones and Werenski are a rock wall driving the whole team. The Goalies are solid. The whole team is like their country: Young, scrappy and hungry.

Their problem is the Power Play. It finished 27th in the League.

You’re Mike Hoffman. You know Power Play. Imagine Seth Jones feathering softies over to you for the one-timer on the Power Play. Tortorella is a smart man. He’ll figure out how to set up that weapon pretty quick.

In Columbus, when they score, they fire the cannon.

You’re Mike Hoffman. You know all about cannons.

Maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets. That might be the fit. For this year anyway.


In any case, you’ve got time. This is a pretty important decision for your career. You’ve just had two very solid seasons in Florida.

Now, can you repeat for another team?


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