Monday, December 28, 2020

Blues ink Hoffman to PTO

Forward scored 29 goals for Florida last season, will join team for training 
camp Jan. 3; could sign contract when Steen, Tarasenko go on LTIR

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues could be on the verge of adding some scoring punch to their roster in the very near future.

In a bit of a surprising move in the way it came about, and not necessarily getting the player to St. Louis, the Blues inked veteran forward Mike Hoffman to a professional tryout contract.
(Florida Panthers photo)
The Blues have signed forward Mike Hoffman to a professional
tryout contract and he will join the club for training camp Jan. 3

The 31-year-old Hoffman, who spent the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers, will join the Blues for the start of training camp on Jan. 3 and participate in all training camp activities. However, Hoffman, who had 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games with the Panthers, can sign a contract with any NHL team while his PTO is effective. His PTO will expire at the end of camp.

There have been rumblings that Hoffman, an unrestricted free agent, was on the Blues' radar following the news of Alexander Steen's retirement and Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder) starting the season on long-term injured reserve. But coming to terms with Hoffman, whose cap hit last season was $5.187 million, would be a dicey situation at present time for the Blues.

But that all can come to a head when they get cap relief once they put Steen, who called it a career after 15 seasons because of a back injury stemming from multiple levels of degenerative herniated disks in his lumbar spine, on LTIR and get the full cap benefit from his remaining $5.75 million hit for this season. Once that happens, there should be roughly $4 million in available space to sign Hoffman, who would be a tremendous boost for an offense that had good balance.

And Tarasenko, who carries a $7.5 million cap hit, would also provide cap relief for the time he's on LTIR, but once he is activated, that cap space comes back on the books but would not affect the Blues' cap situation when it does occur.

Should things come to a head, Hoffman is likely to get a one-year team-friendly deal to keep the Blues under the salary cap, and perhaps a should things work well in St. Louis for Hoffman, a contract extension could be in place for beyond when players on one-year deals can sign extensions, which is normally Jan. 1 but is March 12 due to the unusual circumstances of this year's 56-game season.

The Blues still have to sign restricted free agent Vince Dunn but his contract, which will get a bump up from his cap hit of $722,500 to somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.75 million to $2.5 million per season on a rough guess, will not affect a potential contract and dollars in signing Hoffman.

Should the Blues be able to consummate a contract with Hoffman and his camp, he will make this power-play unit lethal with the addition of defenseman Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, along with the likes of Tarasenko when he returns, Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Ryan O'Reilly, Dunn, Colton Parayko and others.

Hoffman, who was picked in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators, has 359 points (172 goals, 187 assists) in 493 NHL games with the Senators and Panthers.

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