It hasn’t been easy for the Ottawa Senators and Mike Hoffman to find common ground when it comes to contract talks.
Ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, Hoffman, then 25, and the Senators headed to salary arbitration. The winger was looking for a one-year, $3.4-million deal. The Senators countered with a one-year offer worth $1.75 million. When the dust settled, Hoffman was back in Ottawa for the past season on a one-year, $2-million contract that was handed out in arbitration.
With the one-year deal up, though, Hoffman and the Senators are headed for arbitration once again unless they can come to terms on a new deal before Aug. 4. But Hoffman said the plan — or at least his hope — is that the two sides can come to terms on a deal that will keep him a Senator.
“That’s obviously my No. 1 goal,” Hoffman said, via The Ottawa Citizen. “I love Ottawa, I love the fans there. We’re a great team, great guys, so that’s obviously my first priority, to try to get something done with them.”
However, getting a deal done will almost assuredly mean the Senators are going to have to shell out more cash than they had previously after Hoffman upped his goal and point totals to new career highs on this past season’s one-year pact.
If Hoffman’s ask after a 27-goal, 48-point season was $3.4 million, it doesn’t seem beyond reason that he could be looking at $4 million-plus in arbitration this time around.
Hoffman, 26, turned in a career-year in 2015-16, scoring 29 goals and 59 points in 78 outings with Ottawa. Hoffman went from playing a middle-six role to consistent top-six minutes this past season, and he was a huge factor on the Senators’ power play, scoring nine times with the man advantage. Hoffman’s 29 goals were the most of any Senator, and his 59 points ranked third in Ottawa behind only Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone.
Securing a prime-aged, goal-scoring winger during what will likely be some of the finest years of his career seems like a no-brainer for Ottawa. The Senators don’t have a healthy stock of top-end prospects who are going to be 20-plus goal scorers in the next two to three seasons, so keeping Hoffman around would be a definite way to maintain a high-powered offense.
However, from a Senators’ perspective, going with the arbitrated salary would be a way to save money in the short term. That said, it might be best to work out a way to get a deal done that carries a longer term.
While Hoffman might command more on a two- or three-year deal, if he has another big season in Ottawa, it could end up being his last. A one-year contract would see Hoffman become an unrestricted free agent at the culmination of the 2017-18 campaign. If he can put up another 25-plus goal season, he’ll have more than his share of suitors on the open market. And if the Senators don’t like Hoffman’s price now, wait until there’s a potential bidding war for his services.
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