May the Schwarz Be With You: Hoffman Working Out Hard in Ottawa

schwarz

If you’re a Senators prospect and you want to be looked favorably upon by the organization, the easiest way to do it is for you to spend more time during the summer with Chris Schwarz than your significant other.

Over the years, we’ve heard the organization laud and sing the praises of prospects and young players who commit themselves to their offseason training.

I really like Mike Hoffman as a player, but in consideration of the glut of forwards that will be vying for jobs should the current roster remain unchanged heading into camp, learning that Hoffman is working out hard with Schwarz is great. Any edge that he can get on his competition is welcomed and I’m already looking forward to the “I’ve showed up to camp in the best shape of my life,” story that inevitably will be told months from now.

But yeah, I really like Mike Hoffman as a player, even though he only had three goals and six points in 25 games last season while averaging only 13:11 of ice time per game in his first real extended look in the NHL.

On the surface, they’re unimpressive numbers. Just ask Bruce Garrioch.

Hoffman scores his third in 23 games. Don’t even think about waiving him. #Sens

— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) April 11, 2014

One of the things that I loved most about Hoffman’s showcase last season was his dogged pursuit of the puck on the backcheck. But as an offensive player, he’s always going to be judged by how much he produces.

The problem is that Hoffman’s goals and points totals simply don’t do justice to how effective of a player he was. Case in point, ExtraSkater’s database indicates that of the players who played in more than 21 games last season, Hoffman had the NHL’s 15th-best shots per 60 minute of ice time rates – averaging 11.1 shots. And if you want to look at shot attempts, Hoffman had the NHL’s ninth-best rate at 21.5 per 60 minutes of ice time.

Suffice it to say, when Hoffman is on the ice, good things happen for the Ottawa Senators, but the problem for Hoffman was that that Senators only shot 4.6-percent with Hoffman on the ice at five-on-five.

It’s a ridiculously low shooting percentage considering the fact that the Senators generated 55.8-percent of the shot attempts while Hoffman was on the ice. Such a low on ice shooting percentage reflects some pretty abysmal luck on the offensive side of the puck.

One major obstacle for Hoffman proving his worth with the Senators this season is that the team currently has upwards of 14 forwards who will vie for jobs in training camp. Most of this congestion is at the center and right wing positions, but Hoffman’s not in a position in which he can take anything for granted – like the Senators portrayed Mika Zibanejad’s situation as last season.

Earlier this offseason, I anticipated that Milan Michalek would not be back. In fact, Michalek is probably the only Czech of Eugene Melnyk’s that I wished bounced and instead, he was signed to a three-year extension worth $12 million.

As much as I believe he’ll settle into a third line capacity soon, because of his age and stats while playing away from Jason Spezza, I’m holding out hope that the Senators will use Hoffman with other puck possession savants like Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone. Which in turn, would leave Michalek to play with David Legwand and Alex Chiasson.

Should Hoffman fail to crack the roster, even though he possesses a two-way contract, he will have to clear waivers before he can be sent down to Binghamton.

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