The Habs haven’t had a top-end power play threat for a while but they added one in Mike Hoffman this summer. What else could he bring to the table in his first season with the Canadiens?
It took quite a while for Hoffman to find a team as he wasn’t able to get the contract he was looking for, eventually accepting a PTO with St. Louis while waiting for some other stuff to be done before registering the $4M contract.
While Hoffman was relatively productive early on – 15 points in the first two months – it didn’t lead to an expanded role as he was deployed on the third line at times. That continued towards the second half of the season to the point where he was a healthy scratch at times which led to plenty of trade speculation leading up to the trade deadline.
In the end, the Blues got hot and so did Hoffman which led to him sticking around. He wound up finishing the year with eight goals and seven assists in his final 15 games, four of which were multi-point outings. It didn’t carry over to the playoffs though as he was held quiet against Colorado, something that can be said for just about everyone on St. Louis as they managed just seven goals in the four-game sweep.
Season Stats: 52 GP, 17 goals, 19 assists, 36 points, +2 rating, 10 PIMS, 7 PPG, 3 GWG, 110 shots, 15:04 ATOI, 48.1 CF%
Playoff Stats: 4 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, -1 rating, 4 PIMS, 0 PPG, 0 GWG, 10 shots, 15:35 ATOI, 50.0 CF%
5 Year Averages
(The stats for 2019-20 and 2020-21 have been extrapolated to an 82-game rate.)
There is one easy part to this so let’s get it out of the way first. Hoffman will be a prominent fixture on Montreal’s top power play unit. You don’t bring in an elite power play producer and not play him there. And if you don’t think he’s elite with the man advantage, only four players have more power play goals than he has in the last five years – Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Steven Stamkos.
However, where he fits in at even strength is a complete mystery. Hoffman isn’t the type of player that complements a line or gives them a two-way element. He’s a finisher, plain and simple. Pairing him and Cole Caufield together would make for some exciting offensive potential but there are some defensive zone risks that would be coming as well. He’d be a nice shooter for Christian Dvorak to pass to but if he’s going to be used in Phillip Danault’s old role – one that goes against top opponents – Hoffman’s struggles would immediately become exploitable. What if Jake Evans’ trio on the third line becomes the checking unit? And we know he’s not defensively reliable to be on the fourth line, a trio that will probably start in their own end a lot. Hoffman certainly brings offensive upside to any line he’s on but finding the one that best hides his deficiencies will probably be the priority for Dominique Ducharme.
You may have been caught by surprise by those average numbers but last season was the only one where Hoffman wasn’t hovering around close to 60 points if not more (he’s two years removed from a 70-point campaign). Yes, Montreal isn’t an offensive juggernaut but he should be counted on to put up quite a few points nonetheless. As far as secondary scorers go from a fantasy standpoint, he has been pretty reliable.
One possible concern is Montreal’s depth on the wing. That’s their strong suit and the depth will inevitably cut into Hoffman’s numbers a little bit. That’s not a shot at him specifically – that point is going to come up for other players as well (it already did for Tyler Toffoli). With fewer quality options, I could see Hoffman pushing for 30 goals, even in this system. But with the likes of Caufield, Toffoli, and Brendan Gallagher also being around, I’m going to scale down the projections accordingly.
Hoffman should be drafted in that tier of secondary wingers somewhere before the halfway point of most drafts. I like him a bit better in leagues that don’t have some of the extra scoring categories as aside from power play points and shots, his stat line will look a little empty and someone that scores a bit less but is a stat-stuffer in other categories might be more valuable in the end. I do expect his shot total to jump considerably from last year though considering the volumes that Gallagher and Toffoli have put up. In head-to-head leagues, he’s a bit of a boom or bust player. He might win you a matchup or two and then go quiet for a month. But at the end of the day, Hoffman should be one of the higher point producers on the Canadiens.