Without question, this has been one of the busiest offseasons in recent years for the Detroit Red Wings, as they’ve already made several new additions to their roster and it appears the front office might not be finished making moves just yet.
Even though free agency opened just over a month ago, there are still plenty of quality players available on the open market who are patiently waiting for the right deal to come along. Since the Red Wings currently own the fifth-most cap space (just over $9.5 million) in the league, according to CapFriendly.com, there’s no question they have the ability to make another significant free-agent signing this winter.
While the club could certainly benefit from adding another blueliner on the backend, it also seems reasonable to think they’d consider acquiring another impact forward who could potentially help fast-track their rebuild next season. With that in mind, it’d make a ton of sense to sign forward Mike Hoffman to a multi-year deal, as it’d provide the team with a top-six skater who’s capable of scoring 30 goals per season.
Since the soon-to-be 31-year old is still without a new contract, it’s clear teams across the league aren’t willing to hand him a long-term deal at his price point, which is reportedly between $5-$7 million per season. Becoming aware of this situation, the veteran forward has expressed he’s open to accepting a short-term contract, but he won’t be lowering his asking price any time soon.
With most teams prepared to wait until his price range drops, this could be the perfect time for Detroit to strike and offer Hoffman a two-year deal, as they could easily afford his salary and he also wouldn’t hit the market again at the same time as any of their core players. Taking this a step further, the front office will able to place forward Henrik Zetterberg on the long-term injured reserve before next season begins, which means his $6 million salary won’t count against the salary cap. So they could essentially add the former Florida Panther without losing any more cap space.
Considering the Red Wings are likely multiple seasons away from becoming a playoff contender once again, they probably aren’t the most popular destination for top-tier free agents and normally wouldn’t have any chance to sign a premier goal scorer. That being said, this offseason’s free-agent market has proven to be like no other and adding a player of Hoffman’s stature would undoubtedly improve their chances of making the postseason in 2021.
Despite being limited to just 69 games due to the league’s shutdown, the left-hander was on pace to surpass the 30-goal total for the second-consecutive campaign and had a solid chance to record a career-high in points as well. In addition, the 6-foot winger was able to serve as a reliable offensive weapon with the man-advantage and in five-on-five situations as well.
During his second season with the Panthers, Hoffman averaged 16:50 minutes of ice time, producing 29 goals, 59 points, 21 power-play points, 0.42 goals per game, 0.86 points per game (career-high), 214 shots on net, 33 hits, 31 takeaways, along with 22 blocks.
Making an impact during his team’s short playoff run, the Ontario native averaged 18:26 minutes of ice time, creating three goals, five points, eight shots on net, four hits, one block, and one takeaway through four postseason contests.
Assuming Hoffman agrees to join the Red Wings, there’s a very strong chance he’d be positioned alongside forwards Robby Fabbri and Vladislav Namestnikov on the team’s second line, although, that’d give them three left-handed shooters on just one line. Since this would be less than ideal, it seems like teammates Bobby Ryan or Filip Zadina could swap places with Fabbri.
Considering Detroit finished this past season with the third-worst success rate on the power play (14.9%), the fifth-lowest power-play goals per game (0.45), along with the most shorthanded goals against per game (0.18) in the league, adding the former Ottawa Senator to their special teams unit would definitely help them prevent those terrible results from continuing through the 2020-21 campaign.
Based on these factors, it appears Hoffman could help take this team to the next level offensively while also serving as a veteran leader at the same time. As a result, they wouldn’t have to rely solely on the top line to produce results and the former fifth-round selection would also be able to help guide some of their top young players as they continue developing at the highest level of competition.
Even if things didn’t work out with Hoffman, the Red Wings could make him available through trade closer to the deadline or flip him next summer, as he’d have just one season left on his deal and would likely become a fairly attractive target. So at the very least, the talented winger could eventually be utilized as a prime trade piece to help the club acquire future assets.