Mike Hoffman being used more efficiently in 2022-23

The Montreal Canadiens are starting to settle into the 2022-23 season. It’s only been six games, but they have been doing some things right early on. One of the things that they have done well to this point is using Mike Hoffman in a better way than last season.

Before the season started, I wrote a piece about how Hoffman’s decline in scoring last season was partially due to misuse and the way that the Montreal Canadiens deployed him. One of the biggest issues with Hoffman last season was how he was deployed.

He was often being deployed in the defensive zone and was getting unlucky. That was according to his metrics and usage from the 2021-22 season. In 2022-23, the Habs have been able to use Hoffman better and keep him moving.

Montreal Canadiens are using Mike Hoffman more efficiently in 2022-23.

Let’s be clear. If the Habs have the opportunity to work out a trade involving Hoffman, they should pull the trigger. He’s been far from the player that the Habs likely hoped he would be, and the offense has not been the same as it was during his time with Ottawa and Florida.

But since there’s no trade on the immediate horizon, let’s dive into how the Habs are maximizing his performance thus far. Hoffman has played in all six games for the Canadiens, where he has a goal and an assist to his credit.

He’s got nine shots on goal with three takeaways and no giveaways. So on paper, he’s been great. Looking even further, Hoffman has a 57.6 Corsi For %, which is 12.8% up from the average, implying that the Habs are in control of the puck more often than not when he’s on the ice.

Last season, one of his biggest issues was being deployed in the defensive zone. After all, he’s an offensive-minded player who does not have as much benefit in the defensive zone. In 2022-23, Hoffman has a 75% offensive Zone Start percentage (oZS%).

It’s a smaller sample size, but it’s 15% up from where it was last season and is showing that Hoffman is finding his way on the ice for shifts that begin in the offensive zone than the defensive zone.

Beyond that, Hoffman has seen a reduction in ice time from his usual averages, being on the ice for 13:43 on average through the first six games of the 2022-23 season. Again, the young season could be the reason, but it could also mean that Martin St. Louis is finding ways to maximize Hoffman’s shifts and get the most out of him, which benefits the Habs.

Seeing how these metrics counteract the narrative from last season with the Habs is interesting. It feels like the team might have found better ways to use Hoffman, and it might lead to more tolerable performances and value from the winger.

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