There were a lot of "huhs?" and "whats?" when the St. Louis Blues announced on Sunday that Mike Hoffman is joining the team on a non-guaranteed tryout contract, but plenty is happening beneath the surface.
There was, I believe, a lot of interest in the superb shooter across the NHL. But, at a time when the market for forwards absolutely cratered — only Taylor Hall, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith signed for $3 million — it became clear Hoffman was going to carefully consider his best fit.
When Alexander Steen revealed he wasn’t going to play this season, the odds increased on St. Louis as the landing spot. Steen is not the only Blue going on Long-Term Injured Reserve. The other is Vladimir Tarasenko. That’s $13.25 million in combined cap space (although Tarasenko is expected to return). Even with Vince Dunn still to be signed, there’s room to get Hoffman signed at the start of the season. (Personal guess: one year, between $4 million and $4.5 million. That’s what a few teams thought the winger was looking for.)
Hoffman gets what he wants: a big role on a good team. St. Louis gets what it wants: a scorer to ease Tarasenko’s absence.
It’s not the first time they’ve considered Hoffman. When Ottawa decided to trade him, the Blues did a deep dive and were very much in the race to acquire him.
So, there’s your explainer… now back to reading angry tweets about cap circumvention.