Top 5 Free Agents the Carolina Hurricanes Should Target

Jun 1, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho (20) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho (20) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 19, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Mike Hoffman (68) celebrates his goal with center Robert Thomas (18) in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Mike Hoffman (68) celebrates his goal with center Robert Thomas (18) in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Mike Hoffman

The last, and to me absolutely most important, top 6/9 forward on this list is Mike Hoffman, currently of the St Louis Blues. Hoffman, who has had some controversy in the past, is a scoring winger in every sense. Hoffman has a natural knack for scoring, going all the way back to his junior days. If there is anyone on this list that the Carolina Hurricanes should target in free agency this year, it’s Mike Hoffman.

Hoffman, currently 31 years old, was drafted with the 130th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators in the 2009 NHL draft. In his draft year, Hoffman had 52 goals along with 94 points in 62 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL. Hoffman would also score 21 goals to go along with 34 points in 19 playoff games. That season, he was named to the QMJHL first all-star team.

Hoffman didn’t slow down, even though he was now on the Saint John Sea Dogs. Wearing the A, Hoffman had 46 goals and 85 points in 56 games. In the playoffs, Hoffman put up 11 goals and 24 assists. This production led Hoffman back to the QMJHL first all-star team, as well as being named the QMJHL MVP, winning the Michel Briere trophy. This would be Hoffman’s last year in juniors, as he would move to the AHL next season.

Hoffman played in 74 games for the Binghamton Senators, totaling 7 goals and 25 points. He also played 4 games for the Elmira Jackals in the ECHL, having 3 points in 4 games. In the AHL playoffs, Hoffman had a goal and 9 points in 19 games en route to a Calder Championship. Hoffman would make his NHL debut in the 2011-2012 season, playing one game and not having a point. He would go on to play 76 games in the AHL, having 21 goals and 49 points.

Hoffman would play another 3 games for the Ottawa Senators in the 2012-2013 season, still unable to secure his first point. He would return to the AHL, playing in 41 games and turning in a solid 13 goals and 28 points, this time wearing the assistant captain’s A. Hoffman would see an increase to his NHL time in the next year, having 6 points in 25 games including 3 goals. Hoffman scored his first goal on March 8th, 2014. He would then return to the AHL, this time being named Captain, and he would have a breakout year, scoring 30 goals to go along with 67 points in 51 games.

2013-2014 would be Hoffman’s last year in the AHL, as he finally secured a full-time NHL job with the Ottawa Senators. In a total of 342 games, Hoffman would end up with 107 goals and 230 points, not including 7 goals and 14 points in 25 playoff games for the Sens in 2015 and 2017. On June 19th, 2018, Hoffman would be traded to the San Jose Sharks amid a controversy with Erik Karlsson; the Sharks would then flip him to the Florida Panthers.

Mike Hoffman would stick around with the Florida Panthers for 2 seasons, totaling 65 goals and 129 points in 150 games with the Panthers, not including 3 goals and 5 points in 4 games in the playoffs in 2020. Hoffman would then test free agency. After not seeing anything particularly enticing anywhere else, Hoffman would take a one year, “prove it” deal for $4 million with the St Louis Blues.

Hoffman was a good player on the Blues, totaling 17 goals and 36 points in 52 regular season games, to go along with 1 goal and no assists as the Blues would be swept by the Colorado Avalanche. With rumors of him being traded at the trade deadline, I don’t see Hoffman returning to the Blues next year. Additionally, the Blues have around $15 million in cap while needing to re-sign Vince Dunn, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev and Jaden Schwartz.

Now, what would a potential deal look like for Mike Hoffman? My thought is that he’ll probably take another one year deal or potentially 2-3 years, right before he gets to 35 (unless a team overpays and gives him too much term). He probably gets around the same money, but potentially something lower. I think a contract that looks like 3 years, $3.75 million makes sense for both sides. Hoffman gets contract security with some term and only a slight pay cut for a team that’ll make it past the first round. The Canes get a lethal shooter that can play in the top 6/9. Plugging Hoffman into the formula, we get:

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Hoffman-Trocheck-Necas

Niederreiter-Staal-Jarvis

Once more, Hoffman completes the power play units. Unit one would look like Svechnikov, Aho, Teravainen, Trocheck and Hamilton. Unit two would look like Hoffman, Jarvis, Necas, Niederreiter and potentially Bean with how the expansion draft plays out. Once again, depth scoring has been a huge problem for the Carolina Hurricanes in both the regular season and in the playoffs, and signing someone like Hoffman could add a huge boost offensively and could, almost overnight, fix the biggest problems the Canes have when it comes to winning in the playoffs.

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