All posts by Matt Teague, Brandon Maron

5 potential landing spots for Hoffman on a 1-year deal

The majority of the marquee free agents are now off the board, but Mike Hoffman continues to search for his next destination. It was reported Thursday that the 30-year-old is open to signing a one-year contract, which gives prospective teams more flexibility to bring in the dangerous goal-scorer.

Here are five clubs in a position to make a splash by bringing in Hoffman for one season.

Nashville Predators

Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

Projected cap space: $12.94M
Roster size: 19
RFAs: F Luke Kunin

The Predators have been contenders for years and boast one of the league's top defensive cores. Despite their skill at forward, however, their offense still leaves something to be desired. Hoffman has his faults, but there's no denying his goal-scoring talent. Adding the sniper for one year could just be the missing piece that puts the Nashville over the top.

Nashville ranks 18th in goals per game since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, and Hoffman would have led the club in tallies in each of those two seasons. The Ontario native isn't a great scorer at five-on-five, but his services on the man advantage would be invaluable for the Predators, who have been abysmal in that department in recent years. Nashville's power play placed 31st and 25th over the previous two seasons, while Hoffman ranks fifth among all players with 28 power-play markers over that span.

General manager Dave Poile said Thursday that he'll continue to search for ways to improve his club this offseason. With plenty of cap space and a nearly full roster, swinging on Hoffman with a low-risk, high-reward deal seems like an enticing option.

Boston Bruins

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Project cap space: $10.35M
Roster size: 21
RFAs: F Jake DeBrusk, D Matt Grzelcyk

The Bruins were reportedly interested in most of the big-name free agents such as Taylor Hall and Alex Pietrangelo but ultimately lost out. Now, with a depleted free-agent group to chose from, it could prove wise to bring in Hoffman on a one-year contract.

Boston has the cap space to make a one-year deal work, and it's been made clear that the club has been looking for a winger to play on the second line with David Krejci to complement the team's top trio. Now that Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak may miss a portion of next season after undergoing surgeries recently, Hoffman's talents could be more necessary than ever.

Last season, Patrice Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand combined to score 107 of Boston's 227 goals (47%). The team is desperate for secondary scoring help, and Hoffman offers just that. There would be little risk in signing him to a short-term contract, and if things go smoothly, the two sides could decide to work out a longer deal in the future. Hoffman's fit on the Bruins makes perfect sense, so perhaps we'll finally see GM Don Sweeney make a big move this offseason.

Los Angeles Kings

Darcy Finley / National Hockey League / Getty

Projected cap space: $13.62M
Roster size: 19
RFAs: None

The Kings don't appear to be an obvious landing spot for Hoffman, but hear us out. It's unlikely he wins a Stanley Cup there in 2020-21, but Los Angeles is one of the strongest possession teams in the league, and adding a pure goal-scorer like Hoffman could help catalyze an unpolished offense that lacks some touch.

Los Angeles finished 30th in goals per game (2.53) last season, but head coach Todd McLellan saw his club buy into an aggressive, in-your-face brand of hockey that would have yielded better results if it had a few more finishers. The Kings finished in the top 10 in several critical possession metrics at five-on-five.

CF% (rank) SF% HDCF% xGF%
53.1 (4th) 52.79 (4th) 51.44 (9th) 51.95 (8th)

Captain Anze Kopitar - the Kings' lone 20-goal scorer in 2019-20 - led the team in scoring with 62 points, and Alex Iafallo was the only other player to break 40. Hoffman averaged 61 points over his previous five campaigns, and L.A. adding a dynamic winger alongside Kopitar would undoubtedly bolster the offense. Los Angeles could also use a power-play specialist after finishing 26th on the man advantage last season.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

Projected cap space: $13.63M
Roster size: 19
RFAs: F Pierre-Luc Dubois, F Kevin Stenlund, D Vladislav Gavrikov

Columbus isn't exactly a free-agent hot spot, but the Blue Jackets have shown a ton of promise in recent years and have already added offensive depth with the additions of Max Domi, Mikko Koivu, and Mikhail Grigorenko this offseason. The club has a handful of RFAs in need of new deals, but only Dubois is set for a significant pay raise.

Hoffman isn't Artemi Panarin, but the Blue Jackets' upset over the juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2019 playoffs is proof of what the team can do when equipped with high-end offensive talent. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen can sell his club as a defensive machine that's one or two premier scorers away from making a serious run, and Hoffman could certainly move the needle.

Signing a one-year deal with the defensive-minded Blue Jackets could pose a risk for Hoffman, but it's unlikely that a potential down year would tarnish his market value in 2021-22. Flanking the wing of either Dubois or Domi doesn't sound like a bad gig, either. Like the Predators and Kings, the Blue Jackets need help on the man advantage, and Hoffman would likely be the club's No. 1 option.

Florida Panthers

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Projected cap space: $11.56M
Roster size: 18
RFAs: D MacKenzie Weegar, F Aleksi Saarela

The Panthers' abundance of cap space makes bringing back Hoffman a distinct possibility. Over the past two seasons, his 65 goals rank first on the team and his 129 points rank third. Florida already lost Evgenii Dadonov to the Ottawa Senators, so with a glaring hole at left wing, the club can ill afford to lose Hoffman too.

GM Bill Zito has been busy in his first few months with the team, bringing in the likes of Patric Hornqvist, Alexander Wennberg, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Carter Verhaeghe. The four forwards combined for 36 goals last season - Hoffman buried 29 on his own.

Replacing a lethal goal-scorer is never an easy task, and few options remain on the market for Florida at this point in the offseason. With the cap space to make it work, perhaps Hoffman circles back and signs for one year before hitting free agency again next season.

(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)

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5 potential trade destinations for Laine

Patrik Laine is one of the league's most intriguing young stars. He's still just 22 years old and has shown the potential to be one of the league's most dangerous goal-scorers, ranking seventh in the league with 138 tallies since his NHL debut in 2016.

After signing a two-year bridge deal last season, Laine showed up in 2019-20 with an improved 200-foot game and registered a career-high 35 assists while potting 28 goals. However, the Winnipeg Jets are reportedly considering trading Laine to address other needs on their roster.

Here's a look at some of the teams that could try to acquire the 2016 second overall pick.

Colorado Avalanche

Brian Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty

With a stacked crop of young talent and plenty of cap space, the Avalanche can't be ruled out as players in any scenario. It wouldn't be a surprise to see general manager Joe Sakic pursue Taylor Hall in free agency, but Laine would certainly make sense if the team looks to add a younger winger at a lower cost.

The Avalanche have over $22 million in projected cap space but have several players in line for new deals, including restricted free-agent rearguards Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves. Both players would add some much-needed size and grit to the Jets' back end, but a potential swap would likely be contingent on either agreeing to a new contract.

Tyson Jost and Nazem Kadri are intriguing options at center and could interest Winnipeg with veteran pivot Bryan Little's career in jeopardy. Jost would replace Laine's youth, while Kadri would give the Jets a strong two-way center who's in his prime.

What a deal could look like:

Avalanche acquire Jets acquire
F Patrik Laine D Ryan Graves/Nikita Zadorov
D Connor Timmins
F Tyson Jost

Carolina Hurricanes

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

The Hurricanes have one of the deepest defensive corps in the NHL - and now depth down the middle, too, with Vincent Trocheck's arrival - so it's no surprise they've reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring Laine. The Hurricanes can easily fill the Jets' needs.

Trocheck is two seasons removed from recording 31 goals and 75 points with the Florida Panthers and has proven he has what it takes to serve as a team's dependable No. 2 center. The 27-year-old has two seasons remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $4.75 million, and he fits Winnipeg's win-now mentality.

It would be tough for the Hurricanes to part ways with defenseman Brett Pesce, but the 25-year-old has played increasingly well since his debut in 2015 and would surely be an attractive player to the Jets. With a deep defensive group that includes Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin, the Hurricanes would be able to withstand the loss and continue moving forward as one of the league's more exciting teams.

What a deal could look like:

Hurricanes acquire Jets acquire
F Patrik Laine F Vincent Trocheck
D Brett Pesce

Columbus Blue Jackets

Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Blue Jackets have also reportedly shown interest in Laine already, and we saw last postseason what the club's core is capable of when paired with high-end offensive talent.

Columbus still managed to knock out the high-powered Toronto Maple Leafs in the qualifying round this year despite losing Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene to free agency last offseason, and adding a winger of Laine's ilk could be what the team needs to make a deep playoff run.

Seth Jones isn't going anywhere, nor is Zach Werenski, but the Blue Jackets still have a couple of blue-liners who could serve as a serious upgrade for Winnipeg. David Savard would be the most realistic starting point, but the 29-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent after 2020-21, which adds an element of risk for the Jets. Columbus could work out a sign-and-trade to give the Jets some assurance, and also add another impact player or a draft pick.

What a deal could look like:

Blue Jackets acquire Jets acquire
F Patrik Laine D David Savard
F Josh Anderson
2021 3rd-round pick

New Jersey Devils

Andy Marlin / National Hockey League / Getty

The Devils boast one of the league's youngest teams, headlined by No. 1 picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The 22-year-old Laine could be the player who helps propel the Devils back to their former status as a perennial contender.

New Jersey has two defensemen who can fill Winnipeg's needs. The first is P.K. Subban, who's coming off his worst season but is also a past Norris Trophy winner. Despite carrying an annual cap hit of $9 million, Subban is owed only $10 million in actual money over the next two seasons, which makes his high cap hit easier to swallow.

The second option is Damon Severson. The 26-year-old has proven he can contribute offensively - he recorded 19 goals and 70 points in 151 games over the past two seasons - and could settle in nicely on Winnipeg's second pairing.

New Jersey would ultimately have Pavel Zacha to offer as a center. Still just 23 years old, Zacha was selected with the sixth pick in the 2015 draft but has failed to find his footing in the NHL, as he has just 37 goals and 108 points in 266 games.

The Devils are an intriguing landing spot for Laine, but they'd likely need to part with one of their three first-round picks in 2020 to sweeten the deal.

What a deal could look like:

Devils acquire Jets acquire
F Patrik Laine D Damon Severson
F Pavel Zacha
2020 1st-round pick (via Vancouver)

Minnesota Wild

Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

The Wild are one of the most adept defensive teams in the league, and adding a lethal scorer such as Laine would undoubtedly take them to the next level. General manager Bill Guerin has made it known that the club wants to add a first- or second-line center, but Minnesota has only two right-shot forwards in its lineup, so acquiring another player with that tendency wouldn't be an awful Plan B.

Matt Dumba's name has been tossed around in trade rumors, and the 26-year-old would make for a strong starting point in Guerin's bid. Dumba has three years remaining on his current deal, which carries an annual cap hit of $6 million. Perhaps adding a second-round pick that converts to a first-rounder if Laine signs with the Wild beyond 2020-21 could sweeten the pot.

What a deal could look like:

Wild acquire Jets acquire
F Patrik Laine D Matt Dumba
2021 2nd-round pick F Joel Eriksson Ek
Conditional 2021 1st-round pick (from Pittsburgh)

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5 biggest questions about the proposed NHL lottery tournament

With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause - and potentially finished - there are a number of questions that will need to be answered in the coming months.

One of the biggest unknowns is how the league will handle the draft lottery should the season be canceled. According to The Athletic's Craig Custance, at least one team has proposed an unorthodox solution - a tournament in which lottery teams would play for the first overall pick.

The idea is a no-brainer for fans and television networks. A tournament for the rights to a talent like Alexis Lafreniere would draw a ton of eyeballs and get fans re-engaged after the long hiatus. But for the teams involved, there are some serious questions that would first need to be answered.

1. How would teams be seeded?

If the regular season doesn't resume and the standings remain as they are, how would teams be seeded in this suggested tournament? Clubs have played a differing number of games, so seeding would likely need to be determined based on points percentage.

That's simple enough, but how would the tournament proceed? It wouldn't make any sense to have the worst teams in the tournament (presumably the higher seeds) competing against the better teams (the lower seeds) right off the bat. Would a bye be in order for the last-placed Detroit Red Wings? What would make it fair?

2. How would the worst teams be given better odds of winning?

We can almost guarantee that Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman would be appalled by this proposal. His team has the best odds of winning the draft lottery under its current format specifically because Detroit doesn't win a ton of hockey games. Now the team would have to win an entire tournament? It's a little backward.

On the flip side, imagine a team like the New York Rangers - who looked more like Stanley Cup contenders than lottery players when the season was suspended - running wild in this tournament. How would the league make their path to the final reflect their odds (2%) of winning the lottery under the traditional format? Would they need to win by a certain number of goals? Begin each game with a deficit? It seems difficult to translate those minuscule odds into an on-ice scenario.

3. What happens if a lottery team doesn't own its pick?

This is one of the proposal's major hurdles. Take the San Jose Sharks. They dealt their 2020 first-round selection to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Erik Karlsson deal. Each team sits 29th and 30th, respectively, in the overall standings. The Sharks wouldn't be afforded a lottery ball in the traditional format, so it wouldn't make sense to have them in the tournament. That's easy, but what about Ottawa?

Under the current lottery structure, the Senators would have an incredible opportunity to claim the top selection. Their pick alone gives them a 13.5% chance, and the San Jose pick yields odds of 11.5%. Assuming the tournament is single-elimination, would Ottawa be afforded more than one loss? What happens to the team's second lottery pick? How are the Senators' odds best reflected on the ice?

4. When and where would the games be played?

As Custance notes, holding this tournament during the summer, with fewer competing sports in play, could end up making this idea very successful and give the league something to build on. However, the league's priority is completing the playoffs, and the summer is the most likely time for that to happen. The NHL could hold both events simultaneously, but that would take some serious logistical savvy.

Another important question: Where will the games take place? It would only be fair to grant the worst teams (the Red Wings, Senators, Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, etc.) home-ice advantage, but where do you make that cutoff? How many home games does each of those teams get? Are their buildings even available? It would take a ton of brainstorming on the league's behalf to get this right.

5. How would picks 5-15 be determined?

Under this proposal, we'd assume the loser of the championship game would get the second pick, while the losers of each semifinal contest would square off for the third and fourth picks, like a bronze-medal game at the Olympics.

What happens to selections five through 15, though? If the league were to default the remaining standings based on points percentage to decide the order, what's the purpose in playing the early games in the tournament if the results only matter for teams that at least advance to the semifinals? The most logical approach would probably be for the "eliminated" teams to continue playing one another until a definitive order is reached based on those results.

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