The Arizona Coyotes have addressed one of their weaknesses so far in free agency, but goal scoring is still something the team needs to improve next season.
The Coyotes have signed physical defensive players that seem well suited to play in head coach Rick Tocchet’s system, with the team sometimes being viewed as too soft.
Bringing in the likes of Tyler Pitlick and Johan Larsson will go a long way to addressing this area of need, but the other glaring issue for the team has yet to be addressed so far this off-season.
Last season saw the Arizona Coyotes attempt to improve their goal scoring options with the summer addition of Phil Kessel and the pre-Christmas deal for Taylor Hall, but this only helped the team to 21st in the league with 195 goals.
This was an improvement on the 2018/19 season, where the Coyotes finished fifth-worst in the league, and it would have put them on pace to score 15 more goals had a full 82-game season have been played.
Despite this, it’s still not enough to keep the team relevant in the hunt for the playoffs, with Hall now gone and no true offensive talents being added by new general manager Bill Armstrong so far.
That’s where current UFA Mike Hoffman could come into play. The 30-year-old winger has been one of the most consistent goalscorers in the league since his first full season with the Ottawa Senators in 2014/15.
Since then, he has never scored less than 22 goals and had a career-high 36 with the Florida Panthers two seasons ago - register a total of 172 goals and 359 points in 493 regular-season games across his career.
Hoffman scored 29 goals in just 69 games with the Panthers during this past COVID-shortened season, on pace to score around 34/35 goals, yet he is still without a team for the 2020/21 campaign.
With a number of other top names now already off the market, opportunities have seemingly dried up for Hoffman, who may have waited too long and missed out on the biggest possible pay days available.
Now, it looks as if he is destined to accept a one-year deal to get himself to free agency next year, but his options are increasingly limited.
There are few teams that could afford Hoffman’s salary demands, which could be around $5 million at the lowest, but the Coyotes themselves have the fortune of Marian Hossa’s contract, which frees up just enough so that they would be able to accommodate him.
The team is desperate for goals and Hoffman has proven to be that over the past six years, making him an attractive piece for a team that has a lot of potential but is still missing a key goal scoring piece to their puzzle.
The Coyotes were sat atop the Pacific Division before Christmas last year, prior to making the Hall trade, so there isn’t any reason to expect they can’t work towards similar positive results once again, but the addition of a player such as Hoffman could make them a serious playoff contender.
There are concerns over Hoffman’s character, mostly relating to the incident involving his then-girlfriend and former Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson’s wife, which may also be a contributing factor to the dry market for the winger.
There hasn’t been any recent issues, at least not publicly, since his move down to Florida and if he can prove that he isn’t a distraction to the team then a one-year deal, which could even see Hoffman traded at the deadline for assets, might be something worth considering for the Arizona Coyotes.