The Bruins Need to Steer Clear of Mike Hoffman
Contrary to what most fans seem to believe, the Bruins need to steer clear of forward Mike Hoffman Sorry to my fellow CGS writer, Caylee Allard, who just wrote the contrary earlier today. But, I feel I speak the truth here. Since she wrote about his positive attributes, I’m just gonna focus on the negatives here. Be sure to check out her article as well though! But anyway, let’s dig right into Hoffman’s issues..
He’s Lazy Defensively
Starting with the least important thing, Hoffman is a lazy defensive player. To illustrate my point, I invite you to take a look at the above heatmap. When it comes to defensive heatmaps such as this one, red means more shots are being let through per hour, which is bad, while blue means less are, which is good. As you can see from the map, there’s a significant amount of red, particularly given Hoffman skated primarily in Florida’s top six. That’s just one way to illustrate his lack of defensive play.
The eye test doesn’t lie either. If you ask most people who’ve watched him play a lot, they’ll say the same thing. He just doesn’t put a lot of effort into the defensive aspect of the game. Yes, he scored 29 goals in 69 games last year. Yes, the Bruins could use that. But the Bruins play a structured game, and Cassidy demands that they take care of things at both ends of the ice. Hoffman doesn’t do that, and so he wouldn’t fit in well in the Bruins systems.
Hoffman is Also a Locker Room Problem
The number one reason I am scared of Hoffman is the fact that he seems to be a locker room problem. It’s what got him traded from Ottawa back in 2018. The biggest issue is perhaps not so much Hoffman himself as it has been his wife in the past. The reason he was traded in 2018 is then-teammate Erik Karlsson’s wife, Melinda, filed for an order of protection against Hoffman’s then-girlfriend now wife, Monika Caryk (now Hoffman) in June of 2018. The court filings alleged that Caryk had been threatening the Karlsson family since November 2017. At the time, there were also ongoing criminal harassment/stalking investigations into the situation. You can read more about the situation here.
While thankfully no such situation has arisen since, there is a reason Florida wants to move on from Hoffman despite his performance and willingness to take on a lesser deal. As well as he played in Florida and as desperately as that team needs offense, there should be no reason for them to not re-sign him. This tells me that there were issues off the ice, and what we know from his time in Ottawa backs that up. So, this is a player the Bruins should absolutely steer clear of. There’s a chance there would be no issues, but it’s not worth the risk. The Bruins are an extremely close team. It’s a big reason why they’re as good as they are. If someone is brought in and disrupts that, it could be disastrous.
The Bruins Really Don’t Need Him
They Already Have Ondrej Kase
Now we’ve arrived at my most unpopular opinion in this article. The Bruins do not need Mike Hoffman. The fans who think they do are either forgetting they have Ondrej Kase or have already jumped to conclusions about him. But, they shouldn’t. We have to remember that Kase played just six games with the Bruins before the pause. Deadline acquisitions take more time than that to settle in and start playing to their potential as it is, not to mention the fact that he was coming off an injury. Then, he missed the entirety of training camp due to international COVID-19 quarantine protocols. He had zero time to settle into the team before he had to play in the playoffs.
Despite that, he actually looked really good with Krejci in the playoffs, although he lacked finish. Krejci also looked rejuvenated playing next to him, and the second line was the best one for the team in at least the first round. Given a full training camp and season, Kase will fully settle into Boston and find his finishing touch. As long as he stays healthy, he should be perfect on the second line with Krejci. So, why should the Bruins go out and acquire another winger? They need to give Kase another chance. He’s only 24, while Hoffman is 30. Kase will keep improving, and while he hasn’t scored at Hoffman’s level yet, there’s no saying he can’t at least come close, especially playing with someone like Krejci. Hoffman will only begin to decline from here.
Trading DeBrusk Makes No Sense
There’s also an argument out there for signing Hoffman and trading away someone like DeBrusk. Hoffman is a natural left-wing like DeBrusk, who’s in need of a new contract and has been floating around in trade rumors, so I can see why people think this. But I really don’t understand it. Most fans only want Hoffman for a year or two. Why trade away a player who’s six years younger and that you would have for much longer for a few years of a soon to be declining player? It just makes no sense.
DeBrusk has shown he can produce around Hoffman’s level, although he is streaky. If he figures that out, he will be a better goal-scorer than Hoffman. Remember, Hoffman has only had one year over 30 goals (although he came close last year). Before that, he was always in the 20s. DeBrusk had 27 in 2018-19, and 19 in 65 games this past season.I have confidence DeBrusk will figure out his streakiness given another year or two, and once he does that, he’ll only improve. So, the Bruins need to hang on to him and not give him up in favor of someone like Hoffman.
I would also argue that the reason Hoffman’s scored so much these past two seasons is his usage in Florida. He was used a lot of the power play, which he probably wouldn’t be in Boston, and he was given a lot of freedom offensively without the defensive responsibility. He also wouldn’t get that in Boston. It is almost certain that his production would go down because of those things. Plus, he’s past 30, which is when most players start to decline. So, we can’t count on him producing the way he did in Florida, as it’s extremely unlikely that he would.
Sweeney Knows Best
In short, not only is Hoffman not good defensively and a likely locker room problem, but the Bruins really don’t need him. People are forgetting this is a team that is just one year removed from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and that won the President’s Trophy this year. Yeah, they sputtered out in the playoffs. But, Marchand, Pastrnak, and McAvoy were all dealing with serious injuries, and they were missing Rask. The team we saw in the bubble is not the real Bruins team. The fact that they were even able to keep most of the games close with the Lightning given their situation shows that they are actually capable of beating them under normal circumstances. There is absolutely no reason to judge the team’s outlook by what we saw in the bubble. It just wasn’t them.
This may seem harsh, but I am confident that Sweeney knows more about what the team needs than we do. He inquired about a lot of players that he didn’t sign but could’ve, and that has fans upset. But, there is clearly a reason he didn’t sign them, and no, it isn’t the Jacobs family setting an internal cap. If that was the case he never would’ve inquired on them. We have to trust that Sweeney is doing what’s best for the team. He hasn’t failed us very often in the past, and again, I promise you he knows what they need better than we do. It is his job to after all.
I would assume given Hoffman is still on the market, the Bruins are agreeing more with me in that they really don’t need him. If they really wanted him, they would’ve signed him by now. I think the only way he gets signed now is if he comes for a really cheap one-year deal, which is unlikely since even though he’s open to a one-year deal he wants to get paid. Even at that though, I feel like it’s not extremely likely they sign him. It just feels like it would’ve happened by now if it was going to. So, I sincerely hope they keep true to that and steer clear of him. I think it’d be a big mistake if they don’t.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Matt Slocum/Associated Press