Bryan Murray and his management team threw the Senators' corner of the internet into a brief, but wild frenzy. After Kaspars Daugavins was waived, much to the chagrin of all fun-loving fans, David Dziurzinsky's tenure with the big-league club came to an end-- for now, at least. Murray's moves freed up two coveted spots on the Senators' active roster, prompting rampant speculation. Guesses on what was brewing in Kanata ranged from the early return of Craig Anderson to trades for
Andy Sutton and Matt Cullen, Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, Joe Corvo, Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, Oleg Saprykin and a black market acquisition of a new Achilles tendon for that wiry Swedish kid.
The frenzy persisted for the duration of my trip from Ottawa to Montreal, which was fortuitous, though I did miss out on the stunning landscape and sweeping vistas that is the trek down the 417 and Highway 40. I digress.
The hoopla subsided somewhat after the Senators announced the recall of forward Mike Hoffman from Binghamton. Though Murray tantalizingly has left open one spot on the roster, the reason for yesterday morning's transactions is so far settled with Hoffman's promotion.
Mike Hoffman's move up from Binghamton may not be as intriguing as the news Ottawa has dealt "mid-round pick" for "regressed veteran" (and think of the headlines!), but it does have the potential to alter the dynamic of the team's forward corps. Over the coming games, Senators fans will have the chance to learn more about a player who has the potential to be a capable offensive weapon for Paul MacLean to deploy.
Hoffman is spending his third season playing professional hockey for the organization. In those seasons, spent with Binghamton and as a member of the Calder Cup championship squad, Hoffman's forays to Ottawa have been short interludes. Though he was a passenger and spectator of last year's seven-game playoff run as a Black Ace, Hoffman's actual NHL experience was one game of fourth line minutes. If you were somehow left wanting after that game and thus don't have much of a grasp on Hoffman's game, I'll offer a synopsis.
I wrote this in Hoffman's article during the Top 25 Under 25 series:
Hoffman played in all situations, including manning the point on the powerplay. As a major contributing player on a poor team, Hoffman had plenty of opportunity to display some of his best talents: he has slick hands, a nose for the net, a decent shot, good vision, fluid skating and defensive ability, to boot.
However, the significant ice-time also exposed some of his weaknesses, most prominently in his decision-making, getting beat on the point for shorthanded chances the other way far too often. Mike Hoffman has been a lynchpin of Bingo's offence for the better part of two seasons. There isn't much missing from his game.
His game is more than offense. Hoffman has good two-way ability and it's not hard to picture his smooth skating meshing with Paul MacLean's 200-foot game. His powerplay quarterbacking in Binghamton could come in handy for the team's second unit.
Back in November, when the Binghamton roster featured current Ottawa mainstays from Silfverberg to Wiercioch to both uninjured goalies, here's what I had to say about Hoffman's game:
Mike Hoffman: With a well-rounded skill set, Hoffman has been the offensive leader of this team. He plays in all situations for Coach Ricahrdson and is noticeable on almost all his shifts. He's been a standout and has been making the players around him better. Pretty much all you can ask for.
Just after Jason Spezza was announced as being out for an extended period, both Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman were injured during the third period of a weekend game. The double injuries were a blow to both players' hopes for a promotion, as well as to the Senators' depth chart (enter Derek Grant and David Dziurzinsky). Stone has since recovered and played a few games for the Senators. He was then returned to Binghamton, where he has been rolling along at an impressive clip. Hoffman, on the other hand, was much slower on the mend. With a crunched collarbone, word spread Hoffman's season might be finished. That would have been a big blow to his career. Hoffman is in a tough spot on the Senators' prospect depth chart. Nipping at his heels are top round selections in Matt Puempel and Stefan Noesen, as well as any other B-Sens who are looking for NHL jobs (think Stone, Da Costa). Mike Hoffman's time is now.
Having been passed over in junior and big league drafts, cut by his hometown squad only to later become the MVP of the Quebec League, Hoffman has shown he knows how to overcome adversity.
- Matt Puempel's Kitchener Rangers lead the Guelph Storm 2-0. Puempel has scored twice so far. Stefan Noesen and the Plymouth Whalers have a stranglehold on the Sarnia Sting, leading the best-of-seven series 3-0. Tim Smith of the Detroit Free Press penned an insightful piece on Stefan Noesen's season, which has seen its fair share of ebbs.
- Cody Ceci and the Owen Sound Attack are also nursng a lead, 2-1 over the Soo Greyhounds.
- The top-seeded Portland Winterhawks are knotted at one against the Everett Silvertips. Silfvertips (fixed). Troy Rutkowski mans the blueline in Portland.
- The Calgary Hitmen, backstopped by Chris Driedger, also lead 2-1. Draft class goalie buddy Francois Brassard has the Remparts level 1-1 with Chicoutimi. The Remparts instantly became a bigger threat in the Q, what with the addition of Mikhail Grigorenko. It would be fun to see Brassard tested by the big guns on the Halifax roster. Halifax, led by some big names, are surprising nobody by leading the Saint John Sea Dogs 3-0.
- Binghamton found their scoring legs, trouncing the Albany Devils 5-2 and doubling up the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2, before running out of steam in a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Wade Redden-less Connecticut Whale.
- Mike Hoffman stood out on Friday with a goal in his return, his thirteenth of the season. Adding an empty net to seal the deal, his second goal of the season, Cole Schneider now has eleven goals on the season. Shane Prince and Corey Cowick, two improving younger players, rounded out the offense against Albany.
- Mark Stone didn't get a goal on Friday, but he did have two assists. He found the back of the net twice on Saturday. Rolling along ever since his demotion, Stone seems to know what the organization wants him to do more of: score. Stephane Da Costa and Wacey Hamilton also scored. The goal was only Hamilton's fourth of the year, but it was his second in as many weeks. Brett Lebda had assists on both Friday and Saturday, so there's that. Nathan Lawson had both wins on the weekend, continuing an impressive campaign.
- Binghamton has now won four Saturdays in a row, despite having played on the Friday evening each time.
- The fun ended on Sunday afternoon, only twenty hours after they took to the ice Saturday night and on the road in Connecticut. Marc Cheverie has struggled to find his game lately and the tired team in front of him did few favours, with only Mark Stone connecting in the third period.
- Binghamton play the blasted WBS Penguins tomorrow night. Little rest for the weary.