News out of the capital is that Mike Hoffman, the lead goal-scorer of the Ottawa Senators for two straight years, will file for salary arbitration for the second year in a row. Last year he was awarded a shockingly-low salary of just $2-million, likely because 25-year-old rookies rarely score 27 goals. With no comparables, the arbitrator sided with the Sens that it was hard to say what Hoffman did was repeatable.
Sens Twitter seems to be panicking about this. My belief that this is a non-story is at odds with people whose hockey opinions I greatly value.
I might be missing something but why is Ottawa actually going to arb with Mike Hoffman? It's gonna end bad.— Travis Yost (@travisyost) July 4, 2016
Oh man, are the Sens actually headed to arbitration with Hoffman? Are we sure about this? It'll be so bad!— Nate (@NKB121) July 4, 2016
When Hoffman is awarded his 1 year contract through arbitration I can pretty much guarantee it'll be his last season as a Senator.— SensBench (@SensBench) July 4, 2016
at this point i wouldn’t even be surprised if the sens walked away from hoffman’s arbitration award— phil (@sixesandevans) July 4, 2016
I get the negativity. The Sens have done enough questionable moves over the last few years to merit some skepticism. There is still the possibility to royally screw this up. (Not P.K. Subban-for-Shea Weber screw this up, but still.)
It’s just that I have a hard time seeing a better path than one on which Hoffman files for arbitration. As many have pointed out on Twitter, arbitration prevents offer sheets. If Hoffman wasn’t offer-sheeted, but didn’t like the contract offers, he’d instead hold out during the season. RFAs get minimal leverage in this league, and he’s using the full extent of his by opting for arbitration. Now there’s a hard negotiating deadline, and I fully expect both sides to argue hard to nail down a contract before that deadline.
The Sens have a new GM. The Sens have a coach who coached Hoffman in junior, who singled out two players in his opening press conference: Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. Why hire someone that excited to work with one of his old players, just to throw him away? The Sens took Hoffman to arbitration last year, and the team must know that there’s no way they come out this lucky again. Hoffman proved last season wasn’t a fluke, and he’s going to get paid.
In my mind, Hoffman has few bargaining chips, and I don’t begrudge him for using them. I don’t think the team will either. I’d be very, very surprised if it actually came to arbitration. Feel free to call me out if it happens. But until then, I’m not worried.