Dom Lunardo | March 24th, 2020
It’s been just under 2 weeks since the National Hockey League suspended play indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The players miss playing, the coaches miss coaching, and the fans, without question, miss cheering on their favorite team. However, with a halt in the action, it’s an appropriate time to look at some significant pieces league-wide who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs) at season’s end.
One of these significant pieces plies his trade for the Panthers in sunny Florida. His name? Mike Hoffman. What does the future hold for the shifty, skilled Panthers winger beyond this year? Let’s further examine the current cap situation surrounding General Manager Dale Tallon’s Panthers, and whether or not Mike Hoffman can remain in Sunrise beyond this season.
The “Long and Winding Road” to the National Hockey League
Success has been anything but easy to come by if you’re Mike Hoffman, and his road to the NHL was quite atypical, to say the least. Finally drafted in the 5th round by the Ottawa Senators during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Hoffman was cut by both the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), more commonly referred to as “The Q”.
Since being traded to the Panthers from the Sharks (and hours earlier from the Senators), Hoffman has enjoyed two solid seasons under the hot Florida sun. During his first season as a Cat, Hoffman posted career highs in both goals (36) and points (70). This season, prior to the stoppage of play, Hoffman registered 29 goals and 30 assists for 59 points in 69 games played. He’s been quite the productive winger for the Panthers and doing everything he possibly can to garner a large payday come July 1st.
Salary Cap Restrictions and Demands facing Hoffman and the Panthers
Hoffman turns 31 next November and has scored at least 22 goals in 6 consecutive seasons. In addition to this, he’s also been one of the more reliable players across the NHL, averaging over 72+ games played since the 2014-15 campaign. The Panthers, like many teams, will be right up against the cap heading into next season. To add insult to injury, names like Evgenii Dadonov, MacKenzie Weegar, and Mark Pysyk are all in need of new deals. After inking goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a lucrative 7-year/$70M contract last summer, it may be conceivable that Hoffman could quite possibly be the “odd man out” for the Panthers in 2020-21, due to the inevitable “cap crunch”.
Look for Hoffman to command anywhere between a 3-5 year contract extension in the ballpark of $5.7-7 million range. That seems to be the going rate for a prolific 20+ goal scorer in the NHL. When the dust settles we’re just going to have to wait and see if he stays…or if he goes.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images