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What a Nick Holden Extension Means for the Ottawa Senators

Nick Holden Extension

The Ottawa Senators announced a Nick Holden extension on Thursday for one year at $1.3 million. Holden was originally acquired by the Senators along with a draft pick in exchange for Evgenii Dadonov. Safe to say, that trade has worked out nicely for the Sens so far. However, this Nick Holden extension doesn’t kick in until next year. With so many defencemen already under contract, some questions arise. Here is what a Nick Holden extension means for the Sens.

Nick Holden Extension for 2022-23 Season

Stability and Leadership

Let’s start with his direct impact. Holden has shown to be the classic “veteran, character guy” that everyone talks about needing. Good in the room and seemingly gets along with everyone, Holden brings experience that can be relied upon when things get tough. However, those labels are usually applied to defencemen who are past their useful playing days. Bigger, tougher defencemen who seem to get flown by more often than not. That isn’t the case with Holden.

While he has maybe played slightly more up the lineup than preferred at times, Holden still has solid NHL capabilities. He’s a perfect fit for a team’s third pair and it looks like he may slot in there permanently next year. He has also spent some time in the pressbox at points this year and we haven’t heard a word of complaining from that either. If he is moved around on the depth chart he can still be a veteran presence even as a 7th defenceman at times next year.

Regardless, at the very least the Sens know they’re getting a decent third-pair guy who can play in all situations. He ranks second out of five Sens defencemen who have at least 20 minutes on the penalty kill this year in CA/60 and third in xGA/60. Holden also can play the left or right side which gives some needed flexibility to the roster at times.

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Bodies Going Forward

The actual financial side of things doesn’t seem to be an issue with this contract. Salary cap-wise, the $1.3 million is very easy to fit for a Sens team with tons of cap room. However, the questions start to come when you ask what does this mean for other Senator defencemen? One would assume that both Josh Brown and Victor Mete will be gone this offseason or before. However, star prospect Jake Sanderson is expected by almost everyone to take an immediate step into the NHL.

With Sanderson, that means there would be a defence core of Thomas Chabot, Sanderson, Holden, Erik Brannstrom, Artem Zub, Nikita Zaitsev, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Lassi Thomson. They also have Michael Del Zotto in the minors, which makes nine defencemen. Both Bernard-Docker and Thomson have shown they can play in the NHL already this season. Keeping either of them in the AHL for all of next year too seems like it would be a waste of talent. However, where is everyone going to fit? Unless Zaitsev is moved, he will be in the starting six. A buyout seems highly unlikely given the revenue issues so the question becomes will there be a trade market?

The other way out might be that Brannstrom is moved this summer. However, with how much praise he has received from the coaching staff and his recent play, that seems like it would be a mistake. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the team handles things.

Wanting to be Here

Another thing that is important to note is the fact that Holden clearly enjoys Ottawa. Obviously, there has been a history of players leaving Ottawa on not the best terms. While there is still a ways to go to rebuild that relationship with fans, finding players that actually want to be in Ottawa and play a role in turning the team around is a welcoming change.

When being asked about his decision Holden said the following:

To some, this would be a meaningless and small thing. Maybe it is. But it’s a nice change for fans to see a player openly embrace the city like so many others do too.

Depth is Never a Bad Thing

Some have said you can’t have too much depth. While this is very true, there is still a limited amount of roster space. We also know that at times players on their entry deals are sent down over NHL contracts. And that is at times regardless of skill level. So while it is important to have depth, you also need to be able to play the right players when healthy.

Overall, a Nick Holden extension brings the intangibles everyone always talks about, but with it, it also brings a useful NHL player. At such a cheap price, it is hard to complain about that. This should be considered a win for the pro-scouting department, even if it does raise questions with the Senators blueline moving forward.

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