St. Louis Blues Trade Rumors: Mike Hoffman Evaluation

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Mike Hoffman
OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Mike Hoffman /

The St. Louis Blues clearly need a little help or a boost to their roster for 2017-18. The question is whether they will hope for healthy players or look outside their ranks.

The St. Louis Blues are a team that is listing along right now. They are not without direction, but they do not have a clear course either.

They are just floating with the tide. Sometimes that takes you where you want to go and sometimes it slams you into the rocks.

The biggest question facing the St. Louis Blues is how they want to fix it. The current crop of players is getting used to each other again, so you could make a case for standing pat.

You will get Jaden Schwartz back at some point this season. There is also the slim possibility of Zach Sanford actually returning before the end of the year, though that is a small chance.

So, if you do not trust in that being enough, do you look elsewhere? Do you trade potential for a sure thing?

That’s the question the front office will have to answer. Some of it will be determined by how much teams are asking and some will be determined by where the Blues are in the standings come the deadline.

One of the stronger rumors floating around is with Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa is currently under .500 and looking like a clear seller.

Hoffman will be an attractive piece of trade bait for the Senators. He has skill and, perhaps more importantly, years left on a deal.

Hoffman has been a consistent performer in his NHL career. After three years of spot duty, he blew up for 27 goals and 48 points in his first real NHL season in 2014-15.

Since then, he has not failed to score fewer than 26 goals. His point totals have gone up each following season as well.

He is also semi-cost controlled too. He has two years left on his contract, which takes a cap hit of $5.18 million.

Most indications would point to him being a solid addition to this team. Of course, there are some big reasons why he would not work as a trade.

The biggest reason probably has little to nothing to do with the player himself. The Blues are simply strapped for cap space.

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They currently have a little over $100K in cap space. They do have over $5 million in space if you factor in long-term injured reserve relief. However, even if you sweep away all the confusion surrounding LTIR, the Blues don’t have that space available either.

When Schwartz comes back, they will need that space to afford his salary again. The main purpose of LTIR relief is to give you wiggle room if players are out a full season. Schwartz is not out a full season and Robby Fabbri’s contract is not high enough to give you any significant room.

So, the Blues would have to deal away some significant salary, which would seem to defeat the purpose. No offense, but St. Louis is not dealing away Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen or Jay Bouwmeester. Those are the only players fans would tolerate losing that make enough money to have the salaries match up.

Throwing money out of the equation, you have to ask if Hoffman is actually worth it. Given the Blues current state of scoring, you’d love to have a 20 goal scorer. Since Hoffman’s emergence onto the scene, the Blues have had only one season with more than two players scoring 20 goals.

Still, his point totals are not unheard of in the NHL. They’re better than much of what St. Louis can offer, but is that the highest you want to shoot for?

Many of us, including myself, will have to shrug off the whole “I’ve never heard of him” thing. Clearly Hoffman is a quality player and if his point totals keep going up or even level off, he’d be a welcome addition.

However, perhaps even more of a sticking point than the salary cap is what Ottawa might ask for in return. The bulk of the rumors have involved either a player, prospect and a pick and sometimes all three.

If it is all three, I’d start thinking about leaving the table. Unfortunately, it would almost have to involve an NHL player to get the cap issue to work.

The flip side of that argument is the idea of giving up on some of your prospects. Normally I am a proven before potential kind of person.

Players can hit their ceiling in juniors or the minors. There is usually a reason why the AHL’s leading scorers have not gone on to NHL success. So, normally, you’d take the proven commodity.

However, when a name like Jordan Kyrou pops up, it it hard to stick with that line of thinking. Kyrou is not going to be the next Vladimir Tarasenko, but he could be the next Schwartz or Robby Fabbri and he’s healthy.

Do you want to give up on that when he also has the potential to be better? Do you want to give up on Robert Thomas when the team seems to have him earmarked as Stastny’s replacement for a guy that can play center, but is mostly on the wing?

Overall Thought:

Don’t see it happening.

Many of the online fan base seem to be in favor of a Hoffman deal. I admit to being skeptical before taking a deeper look at the numbers compared to what the Blues have had in recent years.

If you can acquire a consistent 20 goal scorer, you probably should. It is unlikely to happen though.

The issue is not just the cap or the asking price. There are plenty of other teams interested. That makes it almost impossible for the Blues to offer the most.

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St. Louis would have to convince Ottawa to eat some of the salary in just about every scenario possible. They would also have to offer the most value, which means Kyrou or Thomas or Tage Thompson and include an NHL player to get the cap issues settled.

Put all those problems together and this seems like a no go. Thankfully, front offices usually have smarter or more capable people of figuring out these things.

So, nothing is impossible. Don’t get your hearts too set on this trade though. Several other teams are mentioned to be interested and they have cap flexibility.