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Quinn on Hoffman, Rutta’s Roles on Sharks

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Credit: NHL

Where does David Quinn think that Mike Hoffman and Jan Rutta will line up for the San Jose Sharks?

Hoffman and Rutta, along with Mikael Granlund, came to San Jose a couple weeks ago in the Erik Karlsson trade.

The bench boss spoke to San Jose Hockey Now after the deal and gave his initial impressions of the new Sharks. Keep in mind, there’s plenty of time between now and training camp for Quinn to change his mind.

Here are his first thoughts about Granlund:

Quinn’s First Thoughts About Granlund

Rutta came with Granlund from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 33-year-old defenseman is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, winning with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2021 and 2022. Over the last three years, Rutta has been a bottom-pairing defenseman, albeit one of the better in the league. He was also second among Pittsburgh blueliners in penalty kill usage last year.

“Jan’s going to be a guy that we’re gonna rely on to play defensive minutes,” Quinn said. “Give us a little bit more heaviness on the blueline.”

At 6-foot-3, Rutta, along with Nikolai Knyzhov, are the tallest members of the San Jose Sharks blueline. Rutta is not the most physical, but he is strong.

“Last couple of years, my role has been just playing honest, hard-working hockey. Be hard to play against, be tough to play against, and get some time on the PK,” Rutta said after the trade.

Granlund ‘Confident’ He’ll Be Better for Sharks, Rutta ‘Should Be’ Ready for Camp

Rutta should be a penalty-killing regular, along with Mario Ferraro, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Matt Benning.

He’s also one of three right-handers on the back-end, along with Benning and Kyle Burroughs.

Best guess, Rutta will contend with Benning for the Sharks’ top pairing.

GM Mike Grier also suggested that Rutta could see some time on the power play, though that hasn’t been part of his NHL repertoire since his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017-18.

But like Benning, who took on a top-four and power play role in San Jose last year after a career as a bottom-pairing rearguard, opportunity abounds for Rutta.

Benning surprised last season, could Rutta this year? If so, the Sharks could look to flip Rutta, two years at $2.75 million AAV left, this Trade Deadline.

Hoffman, however, is a more likely candidate to be dealt at the Deadline, because he’s got just one year left on his expiring contract at $4.5 million AAV.

He’ll have to find his game though.

From 2014 to 2021, the 33-year-old winger was one of the more consistent scorers in the game, averaging 0.36 Goals Per Game, a 30-goal pace over an 82-game season.

He’s fallen on hard times though. The last two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Hoffman’s production dropped to 0.22 Goals Per Game, an 18-goal pace over an 82-game season, despite no noticeable drop in his power play time.

“I don’t think I really played up to what I’m capable of doing [in Montreal],” Hoffman admitted after the trade. “I still really believe in myself, in my game, and think that I can contribute and bring a lot. Hopefully, we can prove that San Jose.”

This Time, Hoffman Hopes To Be With Sharks For Longer

“Hoffman’s obviously been a guy who’s been a goal-scorer his whole life,” Quinn said, “we’ll certainly put him in a position to take advantage of that skill.”

So we should see plenty of Hoffman on the man advantage this year.

Hoffman should also skate with a solid playmaking center at 5-on-5, be it Logan Couture or Tomas Hertl or Granlund.

If that doesn’t get the five-time 25-goal scorer back on track?

Well, it was a reasonable gamble by Grier then.

Between Rutta and Hoffman and Granlund and Anthony Duclair and Mackenzie Blackwood, the Sharks have taken on a number of reclamation projects this summer. But they’ve also all got good, recent NHL tape.

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