It is frankly a little surprising at this point that veteran forward Mike Hoffman still remains unsigned, but it is an indication of just how rough things have been for free agents this offseason. There has been an economic crunch imposed on the National Hockey League as a result of this seemingly never ending pandemic and there's no questions that the players are suffering for it.
We've all heard the rumors of players who have had to take far less money than what they normally would have expected to get on a new contract, and perhaps no deal serves as a better example of that than the 1 year $ 8 million dollar deal signed by star forward Taylor Hall. There's now talk that Hoffman would be willing to accept a similar deal, word on the rumor mill suggests something in the range of 1 year at $6 million, but in spite of that he remains unsigned.
In this article I will be looking at the 3 teams most likely to sign Hoffman in the offseason, and the reasons why I think they are the most likely contenders.
#1 The Florida Panthers.
This one has only just recently come back up in the rumor mill but with Hoffman coming off a 29 goal season for that franchise, in spite of playing in just 69 games during the shortened season, I can see why the Panthers are suddenly back in the mix. The Panthers have the cap space with $11.5 million available and only 2 restricted free agents in need of new deals. Hoffman has already experienced the benefits of the lack of a state tax in Florida that would make any deal from the Panthers that much more lucrative than similar offers from other teams.
#2 Nashville Predators.
Much like the Florida Panthers this comes down to both a need on the part of the Predators as well as the fact that they have the money to make the move happen. The Predators have only Luke Kunin in need of a new deal and have just over $12.9 million in space to use in order to lure Hoffman to their franchise. Frankly the Predators could even afford a slight overpay on a short term deal, although with a roster of only 19/23 players at the moment they will no doubt need to use some of that money to fill additional holes.
#3 The Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets lost winger Josh Anderson when they dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for center Max Domi and a third round pick, and a talented goal scoring winger like Hoffman would be just what the doctor ordered. The Jackets have the cap space with $12.9 million available, they have the need, and they could even entice Hoffman with the possibility of playing with a very good center in Pierre Luc Dubois. I actually think Columbus makes a ton of sense and the only reason they fall lower down on this list is due to the fact that they are traditionally not a team that attracts a ton of free agents.