Hoffman’s detour to an NHL debut

Mike Hoffman was about 45 minutes north of Binghamton on his way home to Kitchener for the Christmas break when he found out he was being called up to Ottawa.

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Mike Hoffman was about 45 minutes north of Binghamton on his way home to Kitchener for the Christmas break when he found out he was being called up to Ottawa.
So he had to turn around, return to Binghamton to get his equipment, and then head to Ottawa. It was the start of what would be a long, long night.
Once in Ottawa, he’d join the team on its flight to Raleigh, finally getting to his hotel room at 3:30 a.m.
It didn’t matter much, though, not when he was about to make his NHL debut.
“It’s a great opportunity for me, and I have to take every opportunity I can get,” he said.
“It’s a good stepping stone for me.
“I’ve played a few exhibition games. I just want to take the experiences I’ve had in those games and carry them into (Friday’s game).”
Hoffman, now 22, was a gamble as draft pick. He was a small (5-11, 176) but talented player who often did not display the requisite desire.
He started his career with the hometown Rangers, but was cut at the start of the 2007–08 season and no other OHL picked him up.
From there, he went to the Gatineau Olympiques, where he was released after 19 games.
Then he was picked up by the last-place Drummondville Voltigeurs. He finally stuck there and finished the season with 24 goals in 62 games.
That, however, still wasn’t enough to get him noticed and he was passed over in the 2008 NHL draft.
So he returned to Drummonville and had an even better season, scoring 52 goals in 62 games. That helped the Voltigeurs come from last in the 2007–08 season to win the 2008–09 QMJHL championship and a berth in the 2009 Memorial Cup.
Still didn’t help much.
It took until the fifth round of the 2009 draft before the Senators decided to use the 130th pick overall on him.
After attending the Ottawa development camp, Hoffman headed to the Saint John Sea Dogs as an overage for the 2009-10 season. The Sea Dogs had acquired him in a trade with Drummondville and couldn’t have been happier. It turned out to be the biggest year of Hoffman’s career.
He had 85 points (46 goals, 39 assists) in 56 games, was named a first-team QMJHL all-star, won the league MVP trophy, the league sportsman of the year trophy, and was a finalist for the Canadian Hockey League player-of-the-year award.
Since then, the 22-year-old has toiled in relative obscurity in Binghamton as a work-in-progress, adapting to the professional game.
He has scored seven goals and 10 assists in 32 games this season.
Last season, he had 25 points in 74 games. Overall, in 106 career regular-season AHL games, he has 14 goals and 28 assists – not exactly a high recommendation.
Hoffman said coach Paul MacLean hadn’t spoke to him about a particular role to fill, but Hoffman knew what he had to do.
“I have to be a good skater, try to move the puck around, and maybe pop one in, if I can,” he said.
That would help, since, with Peter Regin’s shoulder injury looking more and more like it will keep him out for a long time, and with Jesse Winchester out with a concussion, the Senators are running out of forwards.
“We’re excited for him,” said MacLean.
“He showed great speed through the exhibition season. He’s worked hard in Binghamton. Their team has had some struggles along with him, but he does bring an awful lot of speed to the game, and if he can bring that to us (Friday night), and the energy of playing in his first game, I think it’s going to help the team a lot.”

What do you think? Leave a comment