The Toronto Maple Leafs were on a roll leading up to the NHL’s mid-season pause, boasting a 20-8-2 record and sitting in second place in a tough Atlantic Division. While the team has been solid from top to bottom, there are a few areas of improvement. Most notably, their defence could be better, and much improvement would come from trading Justin Holl. The Maple Leafs will need to trade him at some point in the future to make room for their prospects.
The Downfall of Toronto Maple Leafs Justin Holl
Once a reliable top-four defenceman for the team, Justin Holl has taken a recent and bizarre turn. Last season, the pairing of Holl with veteran Jake Muzzin was the Leafs’ best shutdown pairing and often matched up against the league’s best. In a recent turn of events, Holl has been scratched for a number of games this season following poor performances to start the season and has been replaced by rookie Timothy Liljegren. His main weaknesses are his skating abilities and puck movement, both of which have hindered his success.
The Benefits of Trading Him
The Maple Leafs do not need Holl around much longer. The team has a stockpile of young defensemen waiting in the wings, including rookies like Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin. Besides these two, the team also has 2021 World Juniors defencemen of the tournament Topi Niemela. These three, along with Travis Dermott and veterans Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, and Jake Muzzin, all look poised to form the teams’ backend for the foreseeable future. There doesn’t appear to be a place for Holl in the future.
Holl’s current contract expires after the 2022-23 season and carries a $2,000,000 AAV. For a team right up to the salary cap like the Maple Leafs, his contract is not worth his value. Also consider that his replacement, likely Niemela, would be on an ELC for the next three years. The saved money would be a great asset to help re-sign starting goaltender Jack Campbell, who will need a new contract after this season.
Holl’s Current Value
So the question for Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is, how much is Justin Holl worth on the trade market? Teams have seen him perform at his peak with the Leafs last season in a shutdown role, and many contenders are likely in need of a cheap, reliable, right-side defenceman. Even if he isn’t worth a prospect or player in return for the Leafs, he is absolutely worth at least a mid-round draft pick. A trade like this would be beneficial to a team like the Leafs who are not looking to take back any more cap space.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will need to trade Justin Holl at some point in the future. Whether it’s now or in the off-season, the team has too much young talent ready for action. Relying on an older player does not seem like Dubas’s style, and a trade would also benefit them financially. With the Leafs having to re-sign Jack Campbell in the off-season, Holl’s contract looks like an inexpensive move for Dubas and will benefit the team as a result.