One and a half seasons into his NHL career, Mike Hoffman has been a revelation for the Ottawa Senators. He has been the teams leading goal scorer since the beginning of last season with 42, and he's clearly one of the teams best forwards. He isn't exactly young at the age of 26, but that does mean he is in his prime. However, despite how amazing he has been, I am not sure that all Sens fans realize what we have in Hoffman.
You could make the Dave Cameron argument that he wasn't good enough defensively last year (which is a bit flawed), but he has been amongst the leagues best in terms of producing points. Plus, even Cameron has acknowledged that his all-around game has improved this year, despite the baffling brief demotion to the third line on Tuesday. We all know how good he can be when he's on top of his game, but I'm not sure if we are appreciating him enough.
Hoffman has legitimately been one of the games best left-wingers, and here are some stats which illustrate that point:
- In 2014-15, he had 26 even strength goals, which put him behind only Rick Nash, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, Alex Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Nikita Kucherov. Those are all house-hold, names, and he was almost as good as them.
- Even this year he has scored 10 even-strength goals, which puts him tied for 3rd, behind only Tarasenko and Dylan Larkin.
- Since the beginning of last year, he sits tied with Mark Stone for 5th in the league in even strength points per 60 at 2.58.
- This year he has been even better, posting 2.80 points per 60, putting him 3rd in the league.
- His goal rates look fantastic as well, as his 1.36 goals per 60 since last October are also third in the league.
- In contrast to last year, he is also getting it done on the power play. In just 48 minutes, he has 7 points, which would put him third in powerplay points per 60 at 8.75 (although the sample size is not very large).
- Amongst left-wingers, he ranks 2nd in goals and 6th in points this year. Furthermore, since 2014-15, he sits 5th in goals for left-wingers.
It seems strange to call him on of the best wingers in the game, but it's true. People may write him off just because he is a 26 year old that sort of came out of nowhere, but his skill is legitimate. He has been producing at an elite level since he became an NHL regular last season, and we cannot just ignore that.
He is Ottawa's best sniper since Dany Heatley
left town, and it's fantastic to have someone like him to rely on late in games. Case in point, last game against the Panthers
: the game is tied in the third period and he's demoted to the third line. He still goes out and scores a clutch goal
that ends up being the game-winner.
I am running out of adjectives to describe Hoffman, and I could talk about him all day. It's not just the points he's putting up; it's the fact that he's one of the fastest players in the league, he has silky smooth hands, and he has one of the best releases you'll see in the NHL. I know that the coaches see some flaws defensively, but whenever I watch him I cannot come up with anything that I think he should improve on.
Could he play less risky? Sure, but so could Erik Karlsson. Riskiness is what make these players good, and when Hoffman takes risks, he's going to win most of the time. I find it baffling that he has not found a permanent home on Ottawa's top line yet considering how well he stacks up against other elite NHL players. This article was meant to show to fans just how amazing Hoffman is, but really, this could be directed at Dave Cameron as well.
He is a game-changer, and I think it is inexcusable to take him out of the top-six for any period of time. I don't think he'll be demoted like that again for quite a while, but if he does, fans have every right to be upset. Hoffman has been just as good as Mark Stone, and we should appreciate him as one of the premier left-wingers in the game. There have been some negative things surrounding the Senators recently, but it's nice to take note of the good things that are going on as well, and his performance as an NHL'er should not go unnoticed.