Mike Hoffman has had to battle the odds throughout his hockey career.
He has another challenge ahead.
A fifth-round selection (No. 130 overall) of the Senators in the 2009 draft, Hoffman, 21, is among 31 prospects taking part in this week’s development camp at Scotiabank Place and the Bell Sensplex.
The 5-foot-11 Hoffman, the QMJHL’s MVP last season with the Saint John Seadogs, is getting ready to make the next step to pro hockey after finishing with 46 goals and 39 assists in 56 games.
Hoffman is pencilled in to start the season with the Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton. But a strong showing at rookie camp and in the pre-season could give him the opportunity to be a callup.
Attending his second development camp, Hoffman is using this time to prepare for what’s going to be an important summer.
“I want to play at the highest level possible,” said Hoffman, a Kitchener native who was passed up in the OHL draft before landing with Drummondville. “If I have to go to the AHL, that would be okay as well.
“I want to be in a good shape and put myself in a good spot to make the club. I know I have to get bigger, stronger and put on some weight. I’ve just got to be ready to battle more.”
The Senators have liked what they’ve seen from Hoffman. He has natural instincts, can score and is smart with the puck.
The challenge for him is to show he can do it with consistency at this level.
“For him, it’s just getting a little stronger and making sure he competes every night. That’s it,” said assistant GM Tim Murray. “He’s got world-class speed, he’s got world-class hands. He’s got a world-class shot.
“He’s as high a talent level as there is with individual skills. Now, does that all translate to being a star NHL player? No, it takes other things. But he does have that. He’s got stuff that you can’t teach.”
Hoffman said if he’s going to succeed at the pro level he’s going to have to continue to score ... and pick up his effort in the other end of the rink, too.
“That’s my game,” said Hoffman. “That’s what I have to do. The skills can take care of the offensive zone, but I think I’ve still got to work on the defence a bit more.”