Every Bruins fan is seemingly now hot on the heels for free agent winger Mike Hoffman with it appearing that an agreement for the 2021 NHL season is imminent within the next few days. There have been interesting wrinkles along the way, including the recent reports that the Canadian NHL teams might have to play in the US for this season, and there is beginning to be movement on NHL rosters with the news that Anthony Duclair signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Things are starting to happen again.
So, let’s take the Boston Bruins rumors head on with another edition of the Hagg Bag mailbag: As always these are real questions from real Bruins fans using the #HaggBag hash tag on twitter, and with messages sent to my Facebook fan page.
Now let’s crack open the Hagg Bag talk some hockey:
Any truth to the rumors surrounding (Mike) Hoffman to the B’s? I really hope so!!
–santino merenda (@ELWOPPO88)
JH: Is there truth to the Bruins being interested in a proven 30-goal scorer like Mike Hoffman? Absolutely. Is there word that things are imminent with a Hoffman signing for the Bruins? Not unless he’s willing to sign a one-year, $3 million contract. Based on the one-year, $1.6 million deal that Anthony Duclair just signed with the Florida Panthers, perhaps it’s possible he’d sign a short term “prove it” deal with the Bruins with the hope he’d put up massive numbers that would lead to a bigger deal in better times ahead.
But the Bruins still don’t have the cap space to sign him with roughly $3.6 million currently under the salary cap, per our friends at PuckPedia.
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) November 23, 2020
People downplay Hoffman’s ability to help the Bruins labeling him strictly a power play guy, or a player with defensive deficiencies. But his 18 even strength goals last season in Florida would have been better than anybody on the B’s aside from the Perfection Line, and pretty much exactly what the Bruins are looking for in the postseason.
People rave about Ondrej Kase’s fancy stats and his ability to generate shots, but he put up a massive goose egg in the goals department during the playoffs. The B’s need guys that can light the lamp, plain and simple. Hoffman is one of those guys and would be dynamite for one year with David Krejci on the second line, and could even be a guy that help the Bruins if they suffer an injury to one of their top guys.
I still think Hoffman is going to get something in the $5 million plus range on a one-year deal from somebody, and the Boston Bruins would need to move a contract or two (John Moore, at the very least) in order to make that happen. Perhaps they could find some short-term wiggle room due to the David Pastrnak injury and LTIR, but I get the sense that is something the Bruins don’t want to fool around with given that Pasta is expected to be back sometime in February after a mid-January start to the NHL season.
Let’s put it this way: I think there’s a better chance that Mike Hoffman is on next season’s Boston Bruins roster than 43-year-old Zdeno Chara at this point, and that’s a reflection on where this team is headed, and what they feel this team needs to get over the top this coming year.
You’re a gamer?
–Chris B (@Chris_Blackey)
JH: I am. I always play hurt. Just last month I blew up my ankle when I stepped into a storm drain while I was out jogging, and I was back on the ice helping coach my son’s mites team just a few weeks later. And I play some sports games on Xbox, if that’s what you were asking (which I absolutely know you were).
A great article would be on the rumors like Hoffman, Hanifin & Chara…setting Bruins fanatics straight on what’s true & what’s bullshit… We trust you two
JH: On Hoffman, see above. On Noah Hanifin, I don’t think there’s anything imminent as my partner-in-crime Jimmy Murphy has stated on twitter after doing a little digging with his sources.
Been quiet. I can tell you the Kase for Hanifin was false from what I hear. It was more an idea proposed by some reporter and not actually discussed from what team sources tell me. That being said, they could be fibbing. LOL
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) December 17, 2020
But there’s clearly still interest from the Boston Bruins’ side of things going back to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
And Zdeno Chara? Well, I addressed all that the other day. I get the sense that the Bruins started this offseason looking to get younger on the back end and that would mean potentially moving on from their 43-year-old captain. Does it make more sense for 43-year-old to play the role of a 6-7 defenseman that plays third pair minutes, kills penalties and is probably in and out of the lineup given the crazy schedule that the NHL is expected to face while playing through a pandemic? Or does it make sense for a young guy like Jeremy Lauzon to play that the role of big-bodied, penalty killing stay-at-home D-man while the Bruins see what kind of future he has at the NHL level.
The unfortunate truth at this point is that the Bruins need to see what they have in Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen and Jeremy Lauzon to make determinations on their future, and they’re not going to be able to do that if Chara comes back. The tricky part is that the Boston Bruins probably want to show Chara respect for all the great things he’s done as captain over the last 15 seasons. That will be tough to do if they’re perceived as shutting the door on him coming back to Boston for another year, but the Boston Bruins will do what’s best for the organization at the end of the day.
On a side note, I find it pretty interesting that there almost zero Zdeno Chara jerseys available for sale on the Bruins proshop website right now. Not saying that’s a smoking gun, but it’s telling that Patrice Bergeron is front and center for all Boston Bruins marketing at this point.
It might be best for all involved if he either signed elsewhere or decided to stick with the B’s organization in a different capacity, but I think Chara is a proud guy that wants to keep playing for as long as he can.
Did you enjoy Watchmen?
–Alston Hicks (@alston_hicks)
JH: The HBO series? Absolutely. I thought it was intelligent, prescient to some of the racial issues we’ve seen crop up over the last seven or eight months and the characters were great while dove-tailing in perfectly with the comic book material. The Zack Snyder movie? Hard pass. Pretty much a hard pass on anything Snyder touches and turns into a soulless, testosterone explosion-fest.
Our focus should be on moving John Moore way before passing on Chara. We need Chara, he is a PK/D-zone start master, insane stats even up to current. 1 more year good year left for him on the Bs before we move on.
JH: I don’t disagree, but I don’t think there are any takers for John Moore right now. If the Boston Bruins want to make another move (like Hoffman) to improve their team headed into the season, then that probably rules out Zdeno Chara. Right now, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Kevan Miller are all signed to NHL deals. It sure doesn’t feel like there’s room at the inn there with Moore signed as well even if they wanted to bring on the 43-year-old captain as veteran insurance on a taxi squad situation.
Today’s NHL is all about speed and mobility on defense. Chara no longer has either. Maybe he’d be interested in getting involved on the coaching side if he decides to retire? I’m sure his experience would be quite valuable to the young B’s defensemen.
–Mark Ierardi (@kram93291)
JH: Maybe so. I think Bruins coaches like Bruce Cassidy and Kevin Dean have proven they are very good at developing young defenseman as they worked wonders with guys like Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller and others down in Providence. So, the young Boston Bruins defensemen are in good hands at the NHL level, particularly with Cassidy saying months ago that he was going to take a real focus on working with the young blueliners while anticipating these changes headed into the new season.
Would the Boston Bruins be open to Chara joining the organization in some capacity if he decided that his playing days were behind after a Hall of Fame career? I think that probably be an automatic yes, but it all comes down to what the player wants to do – and it seemed to me like Chara wanted to keep playing if the 2021 season format was a good one for a veteran player with a young family (in other words, no strict bubble situations like last season).