|High-scoring forward Mike Hoffman is in Ottawa this week for his second Senators development camp, working toward a big season ahead (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC). |
There is no disputing what makes Mike Hoffman
a most intriguing prospect.
Hoffman clearly knows it. So, too, do the Ottawa Senators, who made the native of Kitchener, Ont., a fifth-round pick (130th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
"That's my job on the ice, that's what I have to do," Hoffman said when asked about the offensive numbers he produced in his final two seasons of junior hockey. "I'm a points guy and I have to put the puck in the net. If I'm not doing that, I'm not on my game ... That's my type of game and if I'm going to succeed in the future at the professional level, that's what I'm going to do."
The numbers don't lie. In 2008-09, the 5-11, 176-pound left-winger racked up 52 goals and 94 points for a Drummondville Voltigeurs team that would make it all the way to the Memorial Cup semifinal. He added another 19 goals among 40 post-season points.
It was more of the same in his overage season with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Hoffman's final totals included 46 goals and 85 points, with another 21 goals and 32 points in the playoffs, which saw the Sea Dogs roar all the way to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final before falling to the provincial rival Moncton Wildcats. He also was named the QMJHL's most valuable player.
"Tremendous offensive talent. Tremendous offensive upside," said Pierre Dorion, the Senators' director of player personnel. "He snaps the puck really hard and has the ability to score, and he's got NHL speed. He's just got to compete more on a consistent basis."
Despite his prodigious scoring totals, there has always been a "but" with Hoffman, it seems. He was waived through the Ontario Hockey League at age 17 and resurfaced in the QMJHL with the Gatineau Olympiques in 2007-08. It wasn't until the following season, though, that Hoffman began tearing up the league.
"Late bloomer" is the term often used to describe such talents, and Hoffman surely fits that bill. And this week's Senators development camp gives him an opportunity to keep that growth going as he prepares for the jump into professional hockey.
"That's my job on the ice, that's what I have to do. I'm a points guy and I have to put the puck in the net. If I'm not doing that, I'm not on my game ... That's my type of game and if I'm going to succeed in the future at the professional level, that's what I'm going to do." - Mike Hoffman
"I've got to get bigger and stronger, put on some weight and battle more," admitted Hoffman, who is more than willing to start his pro career in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators. "If I'm not ready to make that jump (up to the National Hockey League), I don't want to make that jump and just be sitting on the bench or not playing."
Hoffman is enthused about his second development camp, saying "I'm a little bit more calm" about it all this time.
"I'm glad to be back," he said. "You know what's going to happen (the second time), you know the hang of things. I just want to make that jump to pro hockey next year at the highest level possible. If the NHL is an option, I'd like to get in there, but if I have to go to the AHL for a little bit, then that should be okay, too."
The Senators seem to think so, believing a little seasoning on the farm will do some good. But they'll approach evaluating Hoffman with very open eyes when he arrives at training camp in September.
"He was a dominant player in the Quebec league," said Dorion. "I think he's got to become a dominant player in the American league. From then on, I think he'll have a chance to play with us.
"Binghamton is likely, but you never know. Guys like that can sometimes surprise you. He's a good talent."