It seems, once again, that the Buffalo Sabres have found themselves in between a rock and a hard place. After another disappointing season, Sabres fans everywhere are disgusted with the direction the team is heading. In contrast, there is no such thing as an overnight fix in any professional sport. Yet, it has gotten to the point where things seem to be going backwards. No matter how many bandaids the Sabres organization puts over itself, it always comes up just short. With that being said, every offseason shines a new light of hope on the team. With the big free-agent signing of Taylor Hall, the Sabres are set to make some noise in the Atlantic division. Yet, that doesn’t mean they should be done yet. With the fourth most cap space in the league, the Sabres should bring Mike Hoffman for the 2020-21 season.
Buffalo Should Focus on Mike Hoffman
The Buffalo Sabres are constantly running jokes across the NHL. The Sabres have not made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, which they are all itching to get back to, as a city that consistently finishes in the top ten of viewers for the Stanley Cup playoffs every year. It really has become such a shame that they can’t seem to figure it out on the ice with such a die-hard fan base.
Now, heading into the 2020-21 season. There has already been controversy brewing in Buffalo again. This time it seems that Jack Eichel‘s patience is running quite thin. It is hard to blame him either. Since joining the Sabres, Eichel has literally put the team on his back every season. He had led the team in points every year except for his rookie season, where he finished second instead. While he constantly out-performs those around him. The ownership group likes to make things harder for him. If they are not careful, they’re going to lose a generational talent in Eichel very soon. Counting the 2020-21 season, Eichel has six years left on his contract. Those could be the longest six years of his life, if they do not bring in some help.
With that being said, the Sabres have some promising young talent in their development program. But they are starting to take longer than expected. At the same time, it is unfair to expect some of these 18,19, 20-year-old kids to be studs right out of the gate. Both the owners and fans are waiting for Casey Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson, and Dylan Cozens to fill in around Eichel before it becomes too late.
What He Adds to the Line-up
Moving forward, the Sabres have just over $13.6 million in cap space left going into next season. That is a lot of money to sign some solid free agents to help bolster the line-up. Now, they did add Taylor Hall this off-season. Yet, that is only for one year. While this will help tremendously, it is still not enough to get the Sabres where they want to be. Now, if you were to add Hoffman to this mix, this Buffalo team would be sneaky good. With a top-six of Hall, Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, and Victor Olofsson. Hoffman would slot in perfectly on the wing with Staal and Skinner on the second line. Throwing him, Eichel, Hall, Skinner, and Rasmus Dahlin on the power-play would be awesome. With how impactful the power-play has become for teams, it would be tough to shut down that particular man-advantage.
Over the past few years, Mike Hoffman has established himself as a high-end goal scorer. With one of the deadliest releases in the game, Hoffman has yet to struggle to find the twine. In his past five seasons, Hoffman has scored at least 56 points. On top of that, he would add on at least 30 assists in those seasons as well. Easy to see that no matter what team adds Hoffman’s scoring touch, they will get a boost on the offensive side of things. One of the teams that could use it the most is, in fact, the Buffalo Sabres.
The Hoffman Affect
Between the 2009-10 season, up until the end of the 2019-20 season, the Sabres have scored the third least amount of goals across the whole league, with 2,113 goals. One of the two teams lower than them happens to be the Vegas Golden Knights. While in the same time period, they also have the fifth most goals against, equaling 2,510. We all know Hoffman’s defensive game is lacking. That is not the purpose of signing him. You cannot win games if you cannot put the puck in the back of the net.
The addition of Mike Hoffman would solve that problem in the blink of an eye. If we were to sit here and compare the Sabres team production versus Hoffman’s numbers from last year, he would be an instantaneous fix on the front end of things on paper. Last season, Hoffman recorded 59 points, 29 goals and 30 assists in 69 games played. Buffalo’s leading scorer was Jack Eichel, with 70 points. Hoffman would slide in the right under him at second-highest on the team.
Yes, Hoffman will be turning 31 years old in less than a month. Acquiring Hoffman would not be a long-term solution either. Based on information from Hoffman’s agent, per Mike Hoffman, “there’s no issue on a one-year deal. Obviously, if you’re going to take a one-year deal, you want to put yourself in a good situation because you’re going to be back in the market next year again.” Putting Hoffman on a team with Eichel and Hall would be an absolute shock to see his numbers decline. With both, he and Hall are fired up to prove people wrong heading into the 2021 free agency. They both have a lot of potential at signing big tickets to finish off their career.