Goals are still cool, right?
With the St. Louis Blues in need of some punch on the top two lines, eyes have turned to the trade market for the team as the new year approaches. Last week, I threw out a flare about hometown net presence beast Pat Maroon coming home to help, but what if he does stick it out in Edmonton being Connor McDavid’s Robin?
This week, talk around the league has turned to Ottawa Senators center/left winger Mike Hoffman, and whether the Blues would bring him in to solve their offensive dilemma. Before typing his name into google, I didn’t know much about Hoffman, so let’s look at this like five year old kids together.
MONEY: Hoffman is in the second year of a four year/$20 million contract with two years left on it paying the 28 year old $5.6 million each season. He’s essentially making Alex Steen and Paul Stastny money, but actually producing (he has one less goal than Steen and Stastny combined).
As STLGT’s Jeff Jones hinted at this week, placing Jay Bouwmeester on LTIR would possibly free up some cap space to bring in a salary like Hoffman, because it’s not as simple for the Blues to make a trade. Via Spotrac, the Blues have around $10 million in cap space, with $64 million currently preoccupied.
A note on Hoffman: if the injury to Bouwmeester is more serious than has been suggested thus far, placing him on LTIR would solve the cap problem for this season, freeing up something like a Kyrou/Barbashev package for a deal. But that’s a path the #stlblues haven’t used.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) December 29, 2017
Bringing in Hoffman would certainly mean the end of Stastny or a combination of four different players next year, which is fine. As underrated as Stastny has been in blue, he is getting older and nowhere near worth the $7 million dollar price tag.
HOWEVER: Unless the Blues plan on dumping Bouwmeester or keeping him on LTIR for the entire season, they will need some of that $10 million. Unlike Robby Fabbri, Bouwmeester isn’t out for the year. As STL Sports Page columnist Nicholas Hand pointed out, there is actually only $984,000 available in cap space. Basically, another Magnus Paajarvi.
Schwartz's injury doesn't create any real cap space. It actually lessons deadline day cap space because LTIR. It only provides the #stlblues the ability to be cap compliant with roster replacements. Only LTIR for trade purposes is Fabbri's $894k.— Nicholas Hand (@Nick_Hand) December 29, 2017
According to Hand, unless Ottawa retains salary or Blues can send over a higher contract player than a prospect, the trade will be tricky.
And now that I have a headache, let’s move onto the next facet of Hoffman.
SKILL: Hoffman can score, as evidenced by his three straight seasons of 25+ goal production in Ottawa. He mixed in 13 power play goals last season, and has nine goals and 15 assists this season, which puts him on pace for 22 goals and 36 assists.
He is a finesse player, doing a lot of his dirty work outside the crease. He doesn’t hit or block a lot, but the man can score. While he can put the puck in the net, Hoffman isn’t the baby jesus of goal scoring.
However, he is the speed/high skill set player the Blues are trending towards. Think about the departure of David Backes and Troy Brouwer, net front presence hawks who collected scraps off rebounds or third chances. Hoffman keeps with Mike Yeo’s formula.
Hoffman is also a durable body, having played 70+ games in three straight seasons.
FIT: With his versatility, Hoffman could center a line with Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko until Jaden Schwartz gets back (if Ivan Barbashev doesn’t steal it)-or he could slide onto the second line with Stastny/Tage Thompson/Berglund. I think Hoffman and Thompson could do some damage together.
COST: The trade will cost the Blues, since they are getting 2+ years of Hoffman, and not just a rental. Barbashev and/or Jordan Kyrou will be heading to Ottawa along with a utility stick like Magnus Paajarvi or Dmitrj Jaskin. And I am fine with that. As the esteemed Dan O’ Reilly pointed out today, you have to give to get in this fierce league, and buying NHL talent isn’t as easy as hitting square+X+1, and collecting goals. Hoffman is proven and the kids are not, so Doug Armstrong can’t hoard prospects for too long if he wants to see this team not finish empty-handed in June.
Totally misguided. Fans have been singing songs about the promise of junior phenoms for decades. It a sucker’s bet. Remember when no one wanted to trade Rattie? Barbashev? Lindbohm? How about porcelain Fabbri for Drouin and everyone screamed no? The house bets on NHL talent. https://t.co/ZDgMnHwAhf— Dan Reilly (@danreilly) December 29, 2017
END GAME: Acquiring Schenn for Lehtera and draft picks while flipping Ryan Reaves for Klim Kostin were savvy deals by Armstrong, which more than likely led to his four year extension. But that was then. This Blues team need a jolt, and if you don’t want to bet on kids, go out and acquire something to create that charge. Evander Kane would be nice, but what would he cost and do you have it in you to deal? Hoffman, like Maroon, would serve an immediate purpose on this team.
Yes, I like acquiring two different players, so sue me. Since Schwartz went down, this Bleus team can’t score. In eight December games, the team has only put up two goals or less. That’s weak sauce for a conference only starting to feel its teeth.
Adding Mike Hoffman would require some roster shaking and the loss of a prospect or two, but I think it’s a wise move. He just turned 28 years old, is locked up through 2019-20, and could play on a number of lines with the Blues.
What do you think? Get at me in the comments.