It’s no secret that if the Montreal Canadiens hope to fight for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division, their power play is going to have to be much more productive than it has been over the past few seasons. That’s what makes Mike Hoffman such a valuable acquisition by general manager Marc Bergevin even though it feels like his signing has flown somewhat under the radar during an eventful offseason for the Habs.
Here are some interesting things to know about Montreal’s newest sharpshooter.
He Didn’t Take the Easy Road to the NHL
Hoffman made it to the best hockey league in the world the hard way. He was cut by his hometown team, the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, at the start of the 2007-08 campaign before landing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Gatineau. He was released again after just 19 games with the Olympiques and was eventually picked up by the Drummondville Voltigeurs who were coached by Guy Boucher at the time.
After being bypassed in the 2008 NHL Draft, his first year of eligibility, Hoffman tried out for the Philadelphia Flyers and didn’t make the team. Motivated by this series of rejections, he returned to Drummondville and put up 52 goals and 94 points in 62 games to help the Voltigeurs earn a QMJHL championship title and a 2009 Memorial Cup berth. He added 19 goals in 21 playoff contests.
“Any experience that you have, you want to take the positive from it. It brought me here today. That’s the man I am today,” Hoffman explained.
The Ottawa Senators took notice of Hoffman’s impressive year and selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Draft. His path was equally arduous at the pro level. He played four seasons in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators, won the Calder Cup in 2011, and finally became a full-time NHL player during the 2014-15 season.
He’s Familiar With the Pressures of a Canadian Market
After spending the first seven years of his professional career with Ottawa in addition to playing junior hockey in Kingston, Gatineau, Drummondville, and Saint John, Hoffman jumped at the opportunity to return to Canada after three seasons away.
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“There’s nothing like playing hockey in Canada, let alone Montreal. Being an Original Six team, the fans, the atmosphere and the city, it just has everything that you want as a hockey player,” Hoffman said.
Before returning home, the 31-year-old made pit stops in Florida and St. Louis where he put up 17 goals and 36 points for the Blues last season. In 2018 with the Panthers, he posted career highs with 36 goals and 70 points. Along the way, he broke a Pavel Bure franchise record with a 17-game point streak.
He’s a Natural Born Goal-Scorer
Hoffman comes to the Canadiens to fill a void at left wing created by Tomas Tatar’s departure to New Jersey and to give the man advantage a much-needed boost.
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Case in point, 67 of his 189 career goals have come on the power play during his 545-game NHL tenure. He’s a prolific shooter who scores not with power, but with accuracy and a lightning-quick release. Just imagine the shooting gallery with Hoffman and Cole Caufield firing pucks from both faceoff circles. While he’s not known for his defensive prowess at 5-on-5, if he can be a consistent threat on Montreal’s power play, then Bergevin will get a great return on his sound investment.
He Skates With Ben Chiarot in the Summer
The Habs dressing room won’t be full of strangers for Hoffman who skates and golfs with Ben Chiarot in the summer. He also played with fellow newcomer Chris Wideman in Ottawa.
While he’s quiet and reserved by nature, he was bold enough to wear a Boston Celtics cap the first time he stepped into the Canadiens’ dressing room. At least it wasn’t the Bruins. During his first visit to the Bell Centre as a Hab in August, he revealed that he loves steak, smoked meat, is an avid car lover, especially Ferraris, and is looking forward to discovering all of Montreal’s rich history, both the city and the team.
Hoffman may be coming to the Canadiens with seemingly little fanfare despite his worthy credentials, but the impact of his offensive skills and ability to light the lamp with flair will propel him into the bright Montreal spotlight in a hurry.