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Pens vs. Sens Preview: Getting to Know Mike Hoffman

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There's a fake ass 68 and I'm not happy about that. But this dude is a pretty good player in his own right

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

s the biggest Jagr guy around (who else has a 68 tattoo?), gotta say I didn't like Mike Hoffman at first, since his NHL uniform number. But he did not wear #68 in the minors, so it's likely something a cheap team just saddled him with as a camp number and never bothered to update.

Anyways I saw Hoffman play in the AHL in 2013-14 in some all-star game or something and he was a force. Scored 67 points (30g+37a) in just 51 games that year, even though at a then-age 24 he wasn't a spring chicken of a prospect. Still, that would be his last year in the AHL and his first 3 full seasons he's turned into a force, and increased his point total all of the last three years (48 to 59 to 61 this year).

Seriously just look at this list of the most productive wingers in the NHL for total regular season points in the last 2 seasons:

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Name: Mike Hoffman

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 180 lbs

Born: November 24th, 1989 (27 years old)

Drafted: OTT, 5th round, 2009

2016-17 stat line: 74 games played, 26 goals, 35 assists, 51 penalty minutes

2017 playoff stat line: 12 GP, 4G, 3A, 2 PIMs (t-2nd on team in goals, t-4 in points)

2016-17 stats vs Penguins: 3 GP, 3G, 0A, 10 SOGs

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 50.2 CF%, +2.0% Corsi Relative, 104.5 PDO

Player detail (via The Hockey News Player Page)

SCOUTING REPORT

ASSETS:
Owns a great release. Is both skilled and industrious, with a nose for the net. Pays the price to score and has a history of putting up good numbers at all levels. Can also be a factor due to his great speed.
FLAWS:
His defensive play still needs some more work. Also needs to add more meat on his bones and get physically stronger in order to avoid injuries better. Lacks game-to-game consistency.
CAREER POTENTIAL:
Skilled, speedy sniper.

HERO Chart (via Dominic Galamini)

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2016-17 Ottawa Senators player usage, via Corsica Hockey

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Analysis: Hoffman's 1.92 Points/60 were 2nd best among Senators forwards this season, he also had the highest PDO as a result of an obscene 10.93 shooting %. Skilled players make skilled plays but that is very fortunate on his part. Regardless of just that, the HERO chart shows that Hoffman produces like a first line winger. In a way Ottawa almost uses him ala Phil Kessel as a great offensive winger, but one who skates with the 2nd/3rd line. And that's been a key to Ottawa's success, they have great balance and depth and they can stash really good players all throughout their top lines. As a result, Pittsburgh will have to be very careful and mindful. The Sens don't have a true offensive stud up front (though with Erik Karlsson in the back that helps too). Hoffman on the power play is a true weapon, his 26 points with the man advantage were 2nd on the team behind only Karlsson's 27.

Most Common Line Mates: Hoffman was all over the map, in 1001 minutes his most common forward partner (Tom Pyatt) only played 351 minutes together, or about 35% of the time. Yet Hoffman spent 300+ minutes with 5 total forwards (Pyatt, Mark Stone, J-G Pageau, Kyle Turris and Derick Brassard). The latter three are all centers, so the Sens were definitely exploring where to best put this offensive weapon in Hoffman with his best fit.

Currently, listings have Hoffman on a "3rd line" with center Zack Smith and RW Stone. However, don't let that designation of 3rd line fool you, Hoffman's avera ging 15:51 this post-season at even-strength, 3rd highest overall among Ottawa forwards. Throw in 3 minutes a night of power play time and Hoffman has been playing almost 19 minutes a night.

Why you should know who he is: Hoffman's one of the slickest, most skilled forwards currently in Ottawa. He has a flashy number and a lot of puck-skills. He can shoot, he can make plays, he's a dynamic player who is dangerous with the puck on his stick and has a recent history of producing an impressive amount of points over the long haul.

How the Penguins can stop him: They'll have to do better than this regular season when Hoffman scored 3 goals in 3 games against Pittsburgh. As is always the case with a skill player, you want to deny time and space from them, and ideally keep them out of the offensive zone as much as possible. It would seem a pairing like Ron Hainsey and Brian Dumoulin might be a good match for Hoffman-Stone to try and limit their offense, which would free up guys like Cole and Schultz to deal with Turris and Bobby Ryan.