Leafs trade Blacker, Picks for Holland, Staubitz

It’s a move! The Toronto Maple Leafs were in need of an offensive injection at centre, and found a way to do so without breaking the bank. Taking the "prospect shuffle" approach, the Leafs sent Jesse Blacker and two draft picks to the Anaheim Ducks for Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz. It’s of my opinion that if a move were to be made, this was the right scenario. Here’s why: 

What’s Arriving

Peter Holland is the centrepiece of this trade, make no mistake. Drafted 15th overall in the 2009 entry draft, the 22 year old centre is known for the potential that his size should theoretically bring. Sound familiar? Add a year and a draft position and there are shades of recently departed Joe Colborne, but that’s where the similarities end for the most part.

Holland is a shoot-first centre who uses his 6’2, 185lb frame to make space for himself. He’s not incapable of passing the puck, though, with more assists in every year of his career (other than this one, so far). HockeysFuture has him listed as Anaheim’s #1 centre prospect, and tied for #2 overall. He’s also a childhood Leafs fan born in Toronto, which is fun.

2010/11 3 3 3 6 0 11 27.3 2
2011/12 71 23 37 60 59 181 12.7 0.85
2012/13 45 19 20 39 39 124 15.3 0.87
2013/14 10 5 4 9 9 23 21.7 0.9
TOTAL 129 50 64 114 107 339 14.7 0.88

Brad Staubitz comes in as a warm body, for the most part. Known more for dropping the gloves than contributing points, Staubtiz has spent NHL time with San Jose, Minnesota, Montreal, and Anaheim in his five year career. Hopefully this doesn’t lead to an attempt at a McLaren-Staubitz-Orr superpuncher line, but it gives options when the team has forwards missing.

What’s Departing

The Leafs give up Jesse Blacker as the main piece going to Anaheim. I wrote about him in September when we ranked him as the #6 prospect in the organization, and personally had ranked third. Blacker is a reliable defensive defenceman who can occasionally contribute production, finishing with 11 points in 61 games last year.

Overall, I felt he was the Marlies’ most improved player due to his increased discipline and his positional awareness, but an injury in Leafs camp set him back on the depth chart. When the Marlies six man unit dominated to open the season, there was simply no room to slot him in. As such, he’s only played five of the team’s thirteen games this year, despite my original speculation that he would get heavy minutes.

Also given up were two 2014 draft picks, a third round pick that can become a second round pick (probably conditional on Holland’s GP), and a seventh rounder.

Short Term Look

The Leafs get a much needed bailout at centre. As it stands, there aren’t any offensive pivots available to play for at least another five days, with Nazem Kadri suspended, Tyler Bozak injured for a little while, and Dave Bolland injured for a long while. James van Riemsdyk has put in his best efforts to learn the position, and Jay McClement has tried his hardest to score, but the team needs an offensive injection immediately and Holland brings that. It also makes the defensive choices a lot easier for the Marlies, not feeling that they’re wasting quality talent in the press box.

Holland is also off to a hot start with the Norfolk Admirals, with nine points in his first ten games, including a three point performance last night. Today, he gets to play for his hometown team, on Hockey Night In Canada. We’ll see if he carries the momentum.

Long Term Look

As much of a fan as I am of Blacker, a trade was the right move, and this was the right time. Simply put, there’s a seemingly infinite supply of defencemen in the Leafs organization, and Blacker would struggle to get the minutes he needs even at the AHL level, let alone trying to break through an NHL roster that sees players like John-Michael Liles in press box purgatory. If he eventually cracks the Ducks, former Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin will make a good mentor for him.

Similarly, the Ducks get themselves out of a similar situation. Holland remaining in the AHL isn’t necessarily due to a lack of readiness, but more of a hesitance to turn him into a "bottom six" forward. They see potential in him to score, and there are too many quality centres on the Ducks roster to give him the chance in his natural style and position. 

A move like this may not have been necessary if the Leafs looked to sever ties from more defencemen instead of centres over the course of the offseason, but of course, hindsight is 20/20. The move itself appears to be a solid one for both teams.

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  • jasken

    I like it. I like Blacker and I think it’s a move that will really benefit his career and i really like Holland he could end up being very useful, all in all a good hockey trade.

  • STAN

    When I glimpsed the name HOLLAND my first thought was MLSE finally did something brilliant and brought in KEN Holland.

    Sigh. If only.

    Still, good move by the scouting staff. This guy has potential and, as of today, has one more NHL goal this season than my favourite punching bag (guess who)… in half the games played.

    Rah rah Peter!!

  • A fair read.

    And these following comments are not really for you but I was half expecting to read something titled around the amazing institutional creativity of leaf management with this trade for Holland.

    How the team traded away from its excess depth on defence (Blacker who was oft scratched) and added to their lack of depth by restocking the “cupboards” at center. Maybe, how it seems well thought out and worked plan beyond what any fourth grader in a Fedora cooking sphagetti could have pulled it off. [Seriously you want me to accept this type of writing on the blog as some kind of constructive reporting and then get annoyed and threaten to block commenters like me for what you call trolling because you don’t like MY kind of comments and sarcasm as much as your own pointed type]?.

    That aside, a few lines on how there is little if any negative impact to cap space with this move. And how bringing in such a young player (and past first round pick) with upside has some reasonable chance of leaving us surprised by an added injection of offence. And how we perhaps stumbled on a player that can fill in as a third liner for the remainder of the year.

    It almost appears that Nonis did exactly what some reporters requested in response to the negatives Smithson signing. And to be fair your own views have been positive with many of the moves. But more generally, there seems to lack balance with how Nonis is presented on here in my opinion. On the one hand Nonis rarely seem to gets the fair share of credit (or in this case is not even mentioned in name) when he does something perceived as positive such as this. However when management does something that is perceived as “negative” there is ample grief lobbied at leaf management/Nonis. My 2 cents.

    • Jeremy Ian

      I agree. Made under a lot of constraints, this might be a move that increases the number of options and seals some of the problems in key positions for the longer run. Pretty impressive. I was afraid that the organization was going to do what most organizations do in panic mode, behave stupidly.

      Not sure Jeffler’s blog has been as unremittingly negative as some people think.

    • MaxPower417

      Fully agree, it seems like some of the writers don’t want to hear any opinions other then their own sometimes. I was rage banned (I assume by Cam because it was on his article) for no reason the other day, and all I had done was suggest that we stop trying to find a miracle stat to judge to sport of hockey and just accept that nothing is predictable in future games based off statistics for prior games. Seems reasonable enough, no? I mean how can you really have a conversation in the comment section when you just ban every user who has a different opinion than yours? And the Leafs management bashing needs to stop, I know that we’re used to having an idiotic GM (not including Burke, in my opinion) but Nonis’ good moves have most definitley outweighed the bad. People keep looking to the Bozak and Clarkson signings as an example but John Ferg jr probably would have given them about 2 mil more each with a no trade clause. Everyone is human, Nonis included and in my opinion he’s done a damn fine job so far and we could be stuck with a lot worse.

      Need convincing? Mason Raymond for 1 mil a year.

      • Yeah, Nonis may be terrible with his first line centre and expensive free agent non-scorer, but he more than makes up for it with his savvy third line winger and AHL centre acquisitions.

        Sarcasm aside, I don’t see anything wrong with today’s trade. Fills a need, has some potential, didn’t cost much.

      • Rage banned? Commenting policy here is as follows: no personal attacks. Users that are signed up for accounts get warnings and their comments modified, and there’s much lower tolerance level

        I think the only people that have been banned from this site was when there was a “discussion” between two users about how dumb the writer of an article was. It turned out the commenters were posting from the same IP address, so if that was you, I apologize whole-heartedly.

        I like discussing hockey, and I think an active comments section is a key to a good website, and I definitely think that there’s room to discuss things without lobbing personal insults at people. I stand by my comments on the Jerred Smithson signing, and I think that this move to acquire Holland was excellent. It was the exact thing I’d been calling for in that same article and is much less or a short-term solution to a potential long-term problem.

        Remember, McClement was supposed to play much of this season on the wing, so Holland gives the Leafs some third or fourth line depth for when Bozak and Bolland return. The NHL is full of useful and effective depth players that were former first round picks cast off from their draft teams. Not to say that Holland is the Leafs’ 3C of the future, but it’s something that has a chance of working beyond the next few weeks.

      • “and just accept that nothing is predictable in future games based off statistics for prior games.”

        Should we also do away with weather forecasts and economic projections while we are at it? I really don’t think giving up on the idea of trying to predict future behavior based on past behavior is warranted on the meager basis of your apparent allergy to statistics.

  • Now… this is a much better move than the Smithson signing, and something Nonis probably should have done in the summer. Lots of upside there, and really not giving up much of immediate value.

    I like this move a lot.

    //shocker, i know!

    • MaxPower417

      Cam let me get this correct. You feel it necessary and good reporting to denote a rather negative blog entry berating the imbecilic leaf management for the signing of a bit player and non-story like Smithson.

      And seem to avoid commenting in a similar detailed fashion on a more positive and more significant move like that of trading for Holland. In your defence, at least you admit here you approve of the move – say unlike Berger. But I still hold that your blog entries amplify and leaf negatives and largely minimize or ignore leaf positives (and as especially pertains to leaf management).