Binghamton Player Profile: Mike Hoffman

This is the first in a series of profiles on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

Mike Hoffman, C/LW, Contract: 0.676/13 (RFA)
5-130 2009 (Murray), 6’0, Shoots L, YOB 1989, Kitchener, Ont
2008-09 QMJHL 62-52-42-94 86pim
2009-10 QMJHL 56-46-39-85 38pim
2010-11 AHL 74-7-18-25 16pim

Mike Hoffman was passed over in the 2008 draft after an average season in the QMJHL (62-24-24-48) split between Gatineau and Drummondville.  Bryan Murray selected him the following year in the 5th round after a breakout season playing with undrafted linemates Yannick Riendeau and Dany Masse under future NHL coach Guy Boucher.

The season after he was drafted saw him named MVP of the league while leading Saint John in scoring.  A team player, when interviewed Hoffman deflected his achievements to focus on the team, “Getting named league MVP, I’m honoured by that accomplishment but we’re in playoffs right now. Individual goals or success, you put that aside and only worry about the team and winning right now. After the season I might go back and look at that but right now we just want to go as far as we can in the playoffs” (www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12059/latestarting_hoffman_now_out_in_front/).  In discussing his junior career, “I know I was a late bloomer. I didn’t get the chance there in the OHL and Gatineau. If you work hard and get the opportunity you can make stuff happen.”  Saint John associate coach and director of hockey operations Mike Kelly sees him as a sure-fire NHLer someday. “He’s one of the most skilled players I’ve ever been with as far as pure skill. He’s got an NHL shot and outstanding speed. I can’t think of anybody in junior hockey that has had that type of polish to their game. He’s got high, high-end speed, high, high-end skills and he understands his ability, knows how to use it and when to use it. There’s no doubt he’s going to be a pro. How long it takes to get to the National Hockey League will be the question. When he’s playing against men it will be a little different for him because he’s got to learn to play the pro game and get inside against bigger, stronger guys. I would expect anywhere around three years. Right now he’s got enough skill and speed to play there. It’s whether he can figure out the rest of it.”  Despite his accomplishments, there was little fanfare when he was signed.

Hoffman was dominant in the rookie tournament in the fall of 2010 (3-3-3-6), but made little impression at Senators camp.  Like most of his fellow rookies in Binghamton, he struggled to find his game at the pro level.  Hoffman was a healthy scratch on a few occasions throughout the season and struggled defensively (finishing the season -22).  However, his production was better in the second half (18 of his 25 points are from January onward).  He was scratched for the first four games of Binghamton’s series against Manchester, but was in the lineup the rest of the way and had a solid playoff (19-1-8-9, tied with Roman Wick for the second most points by a rookie).  He followed that up with a strong development camp and was included by management in their comments about who stood out (with Bryan Murray saying “he looks like he’s an NHL player now“, http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568466).  In reaction to the positive feedback Hoffman said “I just want to be the best player I can. I need to put on weight and just keep getting better. As Coach [Kurt] Kleinendorst says, just try and get better every ice time” (http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=569478).

The organisation and the player both expect a step forward from Hoffman, whom Kleinendorst called the most talented player on the team last year.  While I think Hoffman is better at center, I believe he’ll play leftwing so as to fit into the team’s top six.  As for projections, I expect him to at double his totals from last year (if he stays healthy), so 50 points.

Hoffman‘s interview after being drafted: http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/ console?id=44411
Interviewed after being named MVP of the QMJHL: www.youtube.com/user/ LHJMQMEDIA?blend=3&ob=5#p/u/0/b5S9Q5aaf4U
Hoffman interviewed at the end of development camp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcK3RcJMQ-4
Scores an OT winner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fS4p4BxsZk
His only fight in junior: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT9GdmGl9KI&playnext=1&list= PL5B2E73CEB595FA64

Next up is Patrick Wiercioch.

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