ST. LOUIS — Mike Hoffman's professional tryout contract is officially over and he has a new contract in hand.
The 31-year-old, who was signed to a PTO Dec. 27, officially signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Blues on Monday.
Hoffman, who spent the past two seasons with the Florida Panthers and led them in goals with 29 a season ago, adds to the Blues up front and will be a top-six forward and power play specialist, particularly in the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko, who will start the season on long-term injured reserve with a left shoulder injury that required surgery.
The 6-foot, 182-pound Hoffman has been skating on a line with Robert Thomas and Jaden Schwartz in training camp and is likely to open the season playing with them.
Hoffman joined the Blues because of his desire to win.
"I think that's what all of us players want," Hoffman said the first day of on-ice training camp. "You want to win. I think this team has a great opportunity to do so. They did so a couple years ago, and I think the depth on this team is tremendous. I think they've got a very good shot of going all the way again.
"I knew St. Louis always had a good club and was kind of one of the teams on my radar coming into UFA. Anything could happen. There's different possibilities, but this was the one that we thought was the best fit and best opportunity."
With Hoffman's contract on the books, the Blues are, according to capfriendly.com, now $7.05 over the $81.5 million cap ceiling and must be cap-compliant when opening night rosters are submitted by 4 p.m. (CT). The Blues did place Mackenzie MacEachern ($900,000 AAV) Jacob de la Rose ($700,000 AAV) on waivers Monday along with Jake Walman, Nathan Walker, Curtis McKenzie, Sam Anas, Jon Gillies, Mitch Reinke and Steven Santini. Should MacEachern and de la Rose clear, that clears $1.6 million in cap space, and the Blues plan on saving another $13.25 million when Tarasenko ($7.5 million AAV) and Alexander Steen ($5.75 million AAV), who announced his retirement, are placed on LTIR.
Jordan Kyrou ($758,333 AAV) being added to the 23-man roster would put the Blues at $7,808,848 over the cap, but Steen going on LTIR Tuesday assuming they are able to maximize his full cap relief, along with the savings of MacEachern and de la Rose's combined $1.6 million in AAV would bring that number down to $458,848 over the cap, so the Blues would still have some work to do until they're able to get Tarasenko on LTIR, to set their opening night roster at 23 and be at $81.5 million or lower.
That's if the Blues even submit an opening night roster of 23, which they don't have to do and could make all of the above numbers a moot point, thus lowering the original $7.08 million over the cap based off a 23-man roster.
But Hoffman is signed, sealed and delivered as of Monday.
"Talking to Mike, we started this obviously months ago when free agency started," general manager Doug Armstrong said at the start of training camp. "A lot of conversations we've had with players is that contracts aren't deemed the value you have in the league, it's deemed the amount of salary cap space that teams have.
"Mike got into a situation where he wasn't comfortable with some of the offers that he had, so he was willing to look at a shorter-term deal or coming with us on a tryout. ... Then you start selling what you have, and we believe the strength of our team is down the middle of the ice. ... I think when you're trying to sell a winger to come to your organization, you're trying to sell the ability to play with good players."
Hoffman had 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games with the Panthers last season and is one of seven players to score 22 goals or more in each of the past six seasons (Patrick Kane, Nikita Kucherov, Brad Marchand, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares).
"Just looking on paper and seeing the lines that we have, I'd put it up against any other team and it gives us confidence," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said at the start of camp. "We get an amazing player like he is, a guy that can score and put the puck in the back of the net, yeah, I think it's exciting not only for fans but as guys in the room, it gives us more belief that, 'Hey, we're going to give this another great chance.'"
"I think if you look at it, we're built to win right now and we're going to take another chance to win," Blues forward Brayden Schenn said of Hoffman. "When you add a piece like that, a guy that's able to score goals for us 5-on-5 and on the power play, I think he's just going to add to our forward group. It gives us combinations, it gives us options to be a deep team and I think he's going to be a good piece for us."
"It's no secret what he brings to the table, his skill level and elite shot, great power-play guy," Blues defenseman Torey Krug said of Hoffman. "It adds another weapon to this already deep forward group. Very exciting to see what these guys can do together on the ice and obviously once we do start to work on special teams to build that chemistry, get comfortable where guys want the puck and just build it up and see where this train can take us."
Hoffman has recorded 50 or more points in five straight seasons. He has played 493 NHL games and has 359 points (172 goals, 187 assists).