After an offseason in which the Bruins were linked to Taylor Hall in free agency, the two are being linked once again ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, with the down-and-out Sabres expected to move Hall and Boston looking for offensive help.
It might be time to add another rumored offseason target to the conversation as well. Remember Mike Hoffman? He was the winger who lingered in free agency seemingly forever, periodically getting connected to the Bruins before ultimately signing a professional tryout contract and then a one-year, $4 million deal with St. Louis.
Well, fast forward a few months, and the Blues’ season isn’t going as expected. After a promising start, Torey Krug’s new team has fallen off a cliff over the last month, losing 12 of their last 14 games going into Wednesday. They now find themselves five points out of a playoff spot and, apparently, considering selling, with Hoffman as arguably their most attractive rental piece.
On the latest edition of TSN’s “Insider Trading,” Pierre LeBrun had this to say about Hoffman and the Blues:
“One guy who has nine goals and 21 points on the season is Mike Hoffman, a pending UFA who could also be on the move. The St. Louis Blues are not out of contention but we know from GM Doug Armstrong's history, that he's not worried about trading pending UFAs when his team underachieves. He traded Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline in 2017 despite being in a playoff spot. He traded Paul Stastny to Winnipeg in 2018 despite being a point out, and word is, from talking to different teams around the league, that he's open to potentially moving some pending UFAs.”
Hoffman’s offensive production is down a bit from previous seasons, but the biggest drop-off has come in his power-play production, with his five-on-five scoring remaining pretty much in line with recent years. The latter is what the Bruins should care more about, and Hoffman could certainly help them there. It’s worth noting that he has gone quiet along with the rest of the Blues recently, though, notching one goal and zero assists over his last eight games.
In those Shattenkirk and Stastny deals LeBrun mentioned, the Blues got a first-round pick and a well regarded (though not elite) young player in return as the base of those packages. Hoffman wouldn’t seem to carry as much value, though, and the presence of Hall and Kyle Palmieri (another player the Bruins have been linked to) on the market as fellow rental wingers could keep the cost down on all three as potential buyers wait things out to see who ends up being the best value.
Regardless, if Hoffman is available, he should at least be on the list of targets Don Sweeney and Co. are calling about.