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Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and TOI

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Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone are both talented offensive players with solid possession skills. So why is Hoffman playing bottom-six minutes?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman have played about the same amount of games in the NHL (Stone 28G, Hoffman 32GP). Both were stars in Binghamton before call-ups last winter and played the bulk of their games with Ottawa after the Olympic break.  Stone and Hoffman started this season in the NHL but Hoffman has been a healthy scratch in two of Ottawa's five games while playing bottom six minutes and Stone has been a regular on the top line. Since 2013-14, how has their ice time compared? What's different about it?

I've broken their playing time from 2013-14 and 2014-15 into five game groups because while they played a chunk of the season together after the Olympics, their games played don't line-up perfectly. Both players have a goal and an assist this season, both have similar career totals (Hoffman 4G, 4A, 8P, Stone 5G, 5A, 10P) and both are strong possession players. Neither player has the draft pedigree that provides the sort of opportunities and contracts usually reserved for first round picks. However, they are not the same type of players.

Mark Stone                              Mike Hoffman
Games TOI/G Games TOI/G
2013-14: games 1-5 11:08 2013-14: games 1-5 12:18
2013-14: games 6-10 15:34 2013-14: games 6-10 14:36
2013-14: games 11-15 16:39 2013-14: games 11-15 12:11
2013-14: games 16-19 14:33 2013-14: games 16-20 13:13
2013-14: games 21-25 13:35
2014-15: games 1-5 13:48 2014-15: games 1-5 13:07

Mark Stone benefitted greatly from Bobby Ryan’s hernia injury. Stone’s time on ice dramatically increased with Ryan out and he was playing with better line mates in Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. The chemistry formed between the trio was noticeable in their possession numbers and to the eye as well, because it allowed Paul MacLean to bump Bobby Ryan to the second line to start the 2014-15 season.

The Senators have always seemed a little more risk-averse when it comes to Hoffman. While Stone is a big body, Hoffman's small for the NHL and that has most likely held him back. With options at forward, the Senators can afford to be cautious with young players. He didn’t see the same bump in playing time and received the same kind of ice time he had been getting for most of his spell with the big club. Hoffman’s older and his development has taken longer but his speed and playmaking abilities, on full display Saturday night, will hopefully quiet rumours of him being waived. Hopefully Hoffman receives the type of top-six opportunity Stone received at the end of last year and then the Senators will better understand what they have in him.