Forever Shark Mike Hoffman will finally make his San Jose Sharks debut this season. Hoffman spent a whole two hours with the Sharks in June 2018 after being acquired by the Ottawa Senators, where he was teammates with Erik Karlsson. He was then sent to the Florida Panthers for a handful of picks, including a 2019 second-rounder. That second-rounder was later part of the package that originally brought Erik Karlsson to San Jose in September of 2018. To complete the circle, Mike Hoffman was part of the three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hoffman, who turns 34 in November, played the last two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens after signing a three-year contract $13.5 million contract in July of 2021.
In 67 games last year, Hoffman raked up 14 goals and 20 assists. His days as a regular 55-60 point player appear to be over as he’s posted 36,35, and 34 points over the past three seasons. Hoffman played second-line minutes for the Canadiens last year, averaging 15:40 a night. He was also a staple on their power play, but most of his production came at even strength, with 13 of his 14 goals coming at five-on-five.
Where does Hoffman fit in?
With his addition to the Sharks, Hoffman will be a middle-six contributor for now. He could be a potential second-line winger playing with Logan Couture and Alexander Barabanov. While Hoffman hasn’t been the scoring threat he was in the past, he should be one of the Sharks’ important goal-scorers. His 14 goals would have tied him for seventh on the Sharks with Nico Sturm. If Hoffman can return to a 20-goal scorer, it would be a huge boon to the Sharks as they look to replace Karlsson’s 101 points by committee.
With the Sharks, Hoffman should be an addition to their power play. Last year, Hoffman was more of a set-up man on the power play, and with Karlsson and Timo Meier out the door, Hoffman will have more of a trigger role that could see an increase in goal production. Hoffman has been a consistent producer on the power play in his career, and without having a clear shooter on the power play other than Anthony Duclair, he could see a rebound in his production just because there are no other options.
Realistically, Hoffman should be a third-line forward who can chip in the occasional goal for a team. The best outcome for the Sharks in the long term would be for William Eklund and Filip Zadina to win jobs in the top six, along with presumed top-six forwards Duclair and Barabanov. A soon-to-be 34-year-old Hoffman playing big minutes for the Sharks isn’t going to help them in the long run, as Hoffman shouldn’t be on this team past the trade deadline. Having him fill a role as a third-line forward and a powerplay specialist would be his best fit for the long-term benefits of the Sharks.
What’s next for Hoffman?
Entering the final year of his deal with a cap hit of $4.5 million, Hoffman should be a potential trade asset for the Sharks. While cap space will be tight again this year for teams, Hoffman could be an asset for a team looking for a veteran presence in their middle six. The issue for San Jose is that they are already using two of their three retained salary spots on the aforementioned Karlsson trade and from last season’s Brent Burns trade. Since Hoffman’s deal would expire at the beginning of the new year, July 1, 2024, he would only be on the books until then, but it would limit the Sharks’ ability to move off another contract that lasts longer, like Granlund and his two year, $5 million AAV deal.
If the Sharks are unable to trade Hoffman at the trade deadline, they should let Hoffman just walk in free agency. Having Hoffman on the team long-term is just going to slow down the development of players like Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Tristen Robins, and Danil Gushchin, who should be competing for NHL jobs next season if they aren’t already.
Bold Prediction: Mike Hoffman scores 15 goals before the NHL trade deadline and is shipped off for a midround pick.