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Blues sign Mike Hoffman to a tryout contract, possibly to manage salary cap

St. Louis Blues Mike Hoffman PTO contract salary cap

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 04: Mike Hoffman #68 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round at Scotiabank Arena on August 04, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

It’s already surprising that the St. Louis Blues ended up signing Mike Hoffman. The biggest surprise, however, is how the Blues signed Mike Hoffman. As the team announced on Sunday night, the Blues signed Hoffman to a PTO (professional tryout contract).

Blues surprisingly sign Mike Hoffman to a PTO (professional tryout contract)

Now, there could be more than meets the eye here.

The Blues face salary cap considerations with Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko headed toward LTIR. One assumes the plan would be for the Blues to sign Mike Hoffman to a “real” contract once they can clear salary cap hurdles.

OK, so it makes some sense from the Blues’ perspective. On the other hand, it’s surprising that Hoffman would settle for a PTO from the Blues instead of a more solidified offer.

Then again, as the Blues note in that press release, another team could snatch Hoffman up:

A training camp PTO allows the player to participate in all training camp activities but does not create any exclusive rights of negotiation. Hoffman will remain able to sign a contract with any NHL team while the PTO is effective. The PTO expires at the end of training camp.

It’s all a bit odd.

This continues what’s been a fascinating offseason for the Blues. While they allowed Alex Pietrangelo to walk in free agency, they signed Torey Krug to fill (some of) the void. With Tarasenko on the shelf, they might replace some of that offense with Hoffman.

Pros and cons of Hoffman

If nothing else, Hoffman, 31, is a reliable sniper. He scored 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games for the Panthers last season. In doing so, Hoffman extended his streak of 20+ goal seasons to six in a row. (He’s basically been that guy since becoming an NHL regular.)

His overall game might make him an awkward fit for St. Louis, though. It’s easy to see why people snicker at the idea of Hoffman creating some sort of analytics vortex alongside two-way dynamo Ryan O’Reilly.

Again, this Blues PTO is less an ironclad answer for Mike Hoffman, and more of a "... to be continued.” Could another team scoop him up? We’ll see.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.