When Mike Hoffman was traded to San Jose early Tuesday morning it was viewed as a win for the Sharks and a big, but inevitable, loss for the Senators. Then, San Jose flipped Hoffman to the Panthers for a very cheap price, leaving Florida with the best player moved on Tuesday.
But there are a lot of layers to go through when considering who was the true winner of these deals.
Here is a breakdown of what each involved team got out of the Hoffman trades.
SAN JOSE GETS:
Second-round pick (2019)
Fourth-round pick (2018)
Fifth-round pick (2018)
Fifth-round pick (2020)
The Sharks were long ago recognized as a team to watch this off-season as a contender with all sorts of salary cap room. John Tavares, Max Pacioretty, Ilya Kovalchuk, Erik Karlsson — any big name player has seemingly been linked to the Sharks at some point in the past few weeks or months.
GM Doug Wilson recently spoke to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz and said he thought his team was “positioned really well” to add to the roster.
So when Wilson landed Mike Hoffman from Ottawa for some spare parts it was already seen as a huge win. San Jose’s dressing room is regarded as a strong and supportive one and after Evander Kane (who had his own questions marks) was traded there, found success, and was rewarded with a long-term extension, that was confirmed.
Hoffman didn’t last long in San Jose, of course, and was flipped to Florida. San Jose loaded up on post-first round picks which could help with future trades or, at least, to accumulate more prospects with in coming years.
But the biggest addition San Jose made in these two deals is what they subtracted.
Mikkel Boedker was a somewhat disappointing free agent addition a couple years ago and $4 million was just too much for a player who has never scored 20 goals and posted only 63 points across two seasons with the Sharks. San Jose didn’t retain any of that cap space, so by working Hoffman around in a couple trades, Wilson freed up an additional $4 million in cap room by shedding an unwanted contract and not getting penalized for it.
Rather than assume the risk of the alleged off-ice incidents involving Hoffman’s fiancee and the potential impact that could have on a dressing room, the Sharks parlayed his on-ice skill into more cap space to chase the bigger fish to which they’ve previously been connected.
Now, San Jose has roughly $11.5 million in cap space, which will rise when the new upper limit is announced. Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney are RFAs and the future of UFA Joe Thornton with the team is to be determined. That’s what this was all about for the Sharks — as excited as the GM is about the next group of young players developing within the organization, the Hoffman trades signal that Wilson has more moves up his sleeve, and we’d expect them to be even bigger than what happened on Tuesday.
Seventh-round pick (2018)
The Panthers are still stinging from last year’s expansion draft, in which they lost Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to Vegas. To recoup some of that lost scoring, Florida was linked in rumours to various offensive threats this summer, from Kovalchuk in free agency to Pacioretty via trade.
But while Kovalchuk will come with some questions around how he’ll return after so many years away from the NHL, and Pacioretty would cost a hefty price in trade plus an expensive contract extension, Tallon was able to buy very low on Hoffman. Just last week the Panthers GM said he had inquired about Hoffman, but the price was too rich.
The main concern around Hoffman is how the off-ice developments will go over in a dressing room if proven true, so Tallon said he reached out to some players on his team and they gave him “no pushback” on the trade. The Panthers narrowly missed the playoffs this season after a very strong charge late and will likely be a popular bounce back pick in 2018-19 — adding Hoffman only solidifies that.
If the team that gets the best player wins a trade then, for now, Florida comes out on top.
Sixth-round pick (2020)
There is no question Ottawa is a big loser here, but once the Hoffman story broke they were not going to win any trade for the player. It was an untenable situation in Ottawa and set up some other team to acquire a goal scorer on the cheap.
Going from Hoffman to Boedker is a net loss of 19 points from 2017-18 production and the older Boedker will not figure prominently into any future plans for Ottawa. Bergman is the prospect Ottawa got out of this that they hope will turn into a player, but his development has left something to be desired. A second-round pick in 2014, Bergman has a solid point shot and scored six power play goals in the AHL this season. But just five days ago San Jose acquired a player with a similar skill set, picking up Kyle Wood from Arizona, and never gave Bergman a call-up. This is all indicative of where they saw his place within the team.
At the very least Bergman will provide some offence from the blue line for the Belleville Senators, but Ottawa almost has to give him a shot in the NHL now. He is the best asset to come out of this since the 2020 sixth-rounder is negligible.
This couldn’t have gone any worse for GM Pierre Dorion. As poor as the return was for Hoffman, this move also puts Erik Karlsson’s future even more into question. Will he want to stick around with a team that seems primed to slide into a rebuild? This trade just feels like the first domino to fall.
As Elliotte Friedman pointed out, if this trade is indeed the start of a rebuild for Ottawa, Boedker’s $4 million cap hit will help them get to the salary floor.
A very interesting draft pick
It isn’t news that Colorado holds a first-round pick of Ottawa’s. The Avalanche acquired the pick as part of the Matt Duchene trade, but it was up to the Senators whether that came to them in 2018 or 2019. At the lottery and in the ensuing weeks, Dorion indicated that the Senators would keep their first round pick in 2018, which is fourth overall. But you have to wonder if circumstances have changed.
The Senators don’t have to officially decide which pick Colorado gets until pick No. 4 comes on the clock later this week. The Avalanche have been preparing in case Dorion changes it up and gives them this year’s pick at the last moment, and that may be the right call for Ottawa to make.
Think about it: If the Hoffman deal leads to a Karlsson trade and a tear down is about to begin, the Senators could come back worse next season. There appears to be a greater chance today than just two weeks ago that Ottawa’s 2019 pick will be even better than fourth overall — and if Ottawa does go scorched earth with its roster, there would be a very real chance to pick first overall next summer.
Jack Hughes is currently the top-ranked prospect for the 2019 draft, a dynamic centre who posted monster totals for the USNTDP program this season. In 27 USHL games with the team, Hughes outperformed Oliver Wahlstrom who is a top scoring prospect in this year’s draft, and Hughes’ points per game rate was better than Wahlstrom’s for the under-18 team. In fact, Hughes scored as many points as Patrick Kane did for the under-18 team in his draft minus-1 season and did it in seven fewer games.
Hughes could be a transformative player at next year’s draft and the Senators now have to weigh the risk of giving that up to Colorado versus the scorer they could get at No. 4 this season. If Montreal takes Jesperi Kotkaniemi, then Filip Zadina would fall and he, too, comes with a ton of upside. The difference is Zadina is a winger.
Three teams were involved in the two Mike Hoffman trades on Tuesday and because of the status of their first-round pick, Ottawa was not one of the top three winners.