Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs have made their first trade of the regular season, sending forward Peter Holland to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
Think Peter Holland is going to ARIZ for a conditional draft pick
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 9, 2016
Conditions of the trade are not yet known, but given the infrequency of Holland to even draw into the lineup, one shouldn’t expect all too much. Nonetheless, we’ll keep you updated as we find out more.
Simply put, this deal was a bit of an inevitability. Holland has barely played for the Leafs this season, particularly so after an appearance on October 20th against the Minnesota Wild where he was dominated at the faceoff dot. The Leafs claimed Ben Smith off waivers shortly after and began to lean on him instead, leading to Holland and his agent approaching Lou Lamoriello and Leafs management to find a solution that would allow him to keep playing. In this case, it was a trade.
Holland narrowly avoided arbitration with the Leafs in July, clearing waivers shortly beforehand before agreeing to a $1.3 million deal, which was closer to Toronto’s request to the arbitrator of $900,000 than Holland’s ask of $2 million.
What The Leafs Lose
The answer to this is a little tricky. Based on the current climate, the answer would realistically be “nothing”, seeing as Holland wasn’t even practicing with the team anymore as he awaited his departure. In a situation where you have a dead weight asset, getting anything back is a victory.
They did also create the situation by benching him, though, and that’s where there’s some polarization. Holland wasn’t exactly a world-beater; a slightly-above-replacement point producer and replacement level play driver over the past three years. But he was better than most “role player” level fourth liners, and outside of the faceoff conundrum, had Smith beat in most metrics. It’s unlikely that he would have become an impact player by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s an argument to be made that he could have been used better.
What The Leafs Gain
The first thing they gain is probably peace of mind about their situation, obviously. Whether he means to be or not, and whether he was correct to be so or not, having a player looking for a trade on the roster will always be a distraction to the management, coaching staff, and players. Closure is good for everyone.
Next up, cap space; getting that $1.3 million off the books is quite good for a team that would likely prefer to have as few bonus overages going into next year as possible. Since it’s already December, not all of it will be shed, but they do stand to save about $880,000 off the bottom line.
Typically, the caveat would be “minus the cost of a replacement”, but that’s already taken care of. Josh Leivo is up with the Leafs presently, and while he doesn’t take up a roster spot, he does already count towards the cap.
That freed up roster spot is key, though; Toronto were at 23 already, and with Leivo’s injury status being, well, extremely questionable, this gives him the ability to magically heal and take over that last spot now. With Toronto playing William Nylander as the centre on their fourth line as it is, Leivo might actually be a better fit on the right wing than both Holland and Smith, having played that role with the Swed on the Marlies this year.
It also sheds a signed contract off of their list, allowing some flexibility in future moves. Winning the Jared Cowen case brought the Leafs down to 48; this brings them to 47 out of a maximum 50.