Around this time last year, I made a bold proclamation. After a year of improvement on the Toronto Marlies’ blue line, I said that Jesse Blacker would probably become the AHL team’s highest-minute defenceman.
Boy, was I wrong. He got benched a bunch to start a year, got into a fight in practice, and just seemed to not be in Steve Spott’s favour. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to stick around, and that some value had to be gotten back for him while it still existed. As Leafs centres began to drop out with injury, they created a two part solution; sending Blacker and conditional draft picks to the Anaheim Ducks for Peter Holland (and Brad Staubitz, I guess).
My proclamation sucked (though Blacker did well with Norfolk last year), but Holland? Much less so. He’s quite good, even.
As mentioned above, the Leafs acquired Holland from the Ducks during the season. Prior to making his Toronto debut, the twenty three year old scored a single goal in four games with Anaheim, and put up nine points in ten games with the Norfolk Admirals. With Tyler Bozak injured and Nazem Kadri suspended, the Leafs desperately needed somebody to play down the middle, so he immediately jumped to the big club.
His start was rocky. He managed to score his first goal as a Leaf on November 21st, but that was his only point in his first nine games. He did, however, follow this up with two multi point performances in four games, which lead to a rate of 7 points in as many games in mid-December. The hype train finally hit the platform from there, but quickly departed again as he closed out the year with a goal and an assist in his final 24 games.
Beyond that, Holland finished tenth on the team in even strength points per 60 minutes, at 1.30. His shooting percentage was a bit high at 12.5%, but with a 187 NHL & AHL game career average (of 14.3%, that may just be a product of not shooting terribly often. I don’t think it plays too much into his actual production – the team as a whole shot at 8.22% with him on the ice. Holland’s possession numbers were very slightly below team average (-1.0%)
It’s safe to say that Holland will be in the NHL on a full time basis, though not playing the emergency minutes that he started. Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott made it very clear as Marlies Head coach that he believed that Holland was a legitimate NHL centre being played in the AHL due to complications (and eventually, only one team playing games).
In 35 AHL games last year, Holland put up 34 points, 17 of them being goals. He’s been a safe bet for about a point per game at that level for three years now – it’s time for him to stay with the Leafs consistently and figure his long-term role out.
Holland didn’t particularly make anybody better or worse at driving play last season, which isn’t entirely surprising. I expect that he’ll be playing on Toronto’s third line this year, able to make a jump in the event of injury. He’ll probably also play more than the eleven minutes a game he averaged when all was said and done – something that probably explains his lack of production as the year progressed. I don’t think the player we saw on his hot streak is where he ends up, but there’s still room to grow.
As long as he doesn’t suffer another Lace Bite injury again. That was a weird setback, though I guess it educated the city on the fact that Lace Bite was a thing.
I don’t see much value in Holland, unless you’re in a keeper league and he’s lying around as a free agent. He may be worth keeping an eye on if the Leafs are short of Bozak or Kadri for any considerable stretch, but beyond that, there are probably better choices. Better choices you can find out about on our sister website, DailyFaceoff.com!
Holland’s first goal as a Leaf.
Watch out for the Sprinkler head at 1:25!