New Jersey Devils Guide to a Perfect Offseason by Tyler Kelley

Back at the NHL Trading Deadline, many New Jersey Devils fans were hoping the team could make a deal to acquire Mike Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators. Now that rumors are swirling about his girlfriend, should the team take him off the table completely?

Locker room chemistry is always something a general manager has to consider when adding new players to the roster. It’s worries about chemistry issues that dried up the trade market for Evander Kane, forced teams to pass on Josh Ho-Sang in the NHL Draft and caused teams to trade some very talented players. The teams on the other side of that trade usually get a player at a discount, but it’s not always worth it. The New Jersey Devils are facing that opportunity in the face right now.

We all know what’s going on in the Ottawa Senators locker room. If you need a refresher, here’s a constantly updated article from the Ottawa Citizen. A quick notes version is Mike Hoffman’s girlfriend allegedly said terrible things to Erik Karlsson and his wife about the loss of their newborn child.

If true, these allegations are awful. This is one of the worst stories of the year, and the fact that Hoffman stayed with this woman is just confusing. However, there is the chance that it’s all untrue. We’ve all been on the wrong side of rumors before, and there’s the telephone game that turns a rumor into a perceived fact.

Either way, we’re not a court of law so we don’t need to figure out if this is true. What we must do is figure out if Mike Hoffman is worth the headache he brings.

Let’s ignore the off-the-ice aspect for just a second. I know it’s hard, but just for argument’s sake let’s do it.

Hoffman could score very well coming into this season. He scored more than 25 goals in his first three full seasons. His goal scoring went down last season, but the rumor mill probably had an effect on him. He still scored 22 goals and added 34 assists. That kind of production would be welcomed on the Devils, especially to bolster the middle six.

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His contract isn’t great, but it’s also not terrible for a 28 year old in the midst of his prime. He makes a little over $5 million over the next two seasons. That’s a contract that won’t hurt the Devils trying to sign a major free agent like John Tavares or John Carlson while still signing Taylor Hall to an extension.

Now the real issue. We know he’s worthwhile on the ice, but is everything coming up off the ice? The Devils locker room is as close as any in the league. Their locker room chemistry got them through some of the hardest times of the season. Heck, one of their players is fighting cancer, which brought the team together at the beginning of the year. Who knows how the Devils will look at this move.

It’s not worth it. There are other players in the league that can get you 20-25 goals without taking the chance of what Hoffman brings to the locker room. He’s a good player, but one that comes to a new team as a pariah. Whether that’s fair or not is not the point, it’s the reality that the Devils don’t need to deal with.

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