Mike Hoffman is out of Ottawa - but back in the Atlantic Division. The Senators have traded the left winger to the San Jose Sharks along with minor leaguer Cody Donaghey and a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft for right winger Mikkel Boedker, defenseman Julius Bergman and a second-rounder in 2020. But then, the Sharks flipped Hoffman to Florida for three draft selections, while sending one pick back to the Panthers.
With all the toxic news surrounding Hoffman and his fiancee, the first deal was not surprising. Unless the allegations against the couple were swiftly proven wrong, there was no way Hoffman and superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson could co-exist in Ottawa any longer. Clearly that didn’t happen yet, so GM Pierre Dorion moved on Hoffman.
The San Jose deal represented the position of weakness Dorion was coming from. Boedker is speedy, but has never cracked 20 goals in his NHL career. He’s a middle-six winger who didn’t kill penalties or drive possession in San Jose, after spending most of his career in Arizona.
In Bergman, Ottawa gets a prospect defenseman who ranked seventh among Sharks prospects in our latest edition of Future Watch - but keep in mind, San Jose had the second-worst system in the league, ahead of only Pittsburgh. Bergman is a sturdy Swede who just completed his third AHL season with the San Jose Barracuda. He scored a pro career-high 10 goals, but gave up a lot going the other way on a so-so Barracuda squad. At this point, he’s probably a third-pairing guy at best and would have to fight for that spot right away. If anything, the Belleville Senators get a nice add for next season.
Hoffman is a goal-scoring winger who was one of Ottawa’s best options on a power play that admittedly struggled this season. He has flirted with 30 goals in the past and on a Florida Panthers team with some pretty good centers, he has the potential to crack that barrier.
The huge question of course revolves around the off-ice issue. If the allegations against his fiancee are true, it’s going to be very hard for Hoffman to fit in with his new club. This is the massive risk Florida is taking on a player who is not cheap, coming in with a cap hit north of $5 million and signed through the 2019-20 campaign. The Panthers do not have the same strong dressing room culture that the Sharks do, though there are respected veterans such as Roberto Luongo and Derek Mackenzie on the club. GM Dale Tallon doesn't seem worried.
"I talked to some of our players, yeah," he said. "And I had no pushback at all. He played with Jonathan Huberdeau in Saint John and our staff, Chris Pronger and Bryan McCabe are well connected and we had multiple conversations in the last week. I trust my guys. I trust my staff and here we are."
For Florida, this is a big risk, even if the price wasn't high. The Panthers surrendered a 2019 second-rounder, a 2018 fourth-rounder and a 2018 fifth-rounder to San Jose, while the Sharks give Florida a 2018 seventh-rounder along with Hoffman.
"Mike is a skilled, consistent and hard-working player who has proven himself to be a talented goal scorer in the NHL," Tallon said. "His speed, experience and offensive abilities will bolster our top-six group."
In any other circumstance, Ottawa does not make the original San Jose trade. But the Hoffman situation had to be addressed and the Senators must live with the consequences.
"Today's trade showcases our determination to strengthen the future of the team by improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice,” Dorion said. “We are confident it is a step in the right direction for the long-term success of this organization."
Senators fans better hope that 2020 second-rounder turns into a gem.
As for the Sharks, this was a pretty dramatic way to bank a couple more draft picks, but they did open up some precious cap space by ditching Boedker, too.
"This series of trades has allowed us to accomplish several organizational goals," said Sharks GM Doug Wilson. "We have witnessed some tremendous growth in our younger forwards over the past season and we feel that we have another group of players that are ready to challenge for additional ice time."
Whether they meant to or not, the Sharks kinda put the screws to Ottawa here. Clearly the Senators wanted Hoffman as far away from the Senators as possible, and now he's playing for a divisional foe in Florida. This will make for some very interesting Atlantic Division tilts next season...assuming Hoffman doesn't get traded again.