Leafs trade Peter Holland to Arizona Coyotes

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:

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.

The Situation

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.

    • Tigon

      Lost? I would have to say he was one of the better GMs this off-season. You could even say what he has done was on par with the Leafs last year – he used his cap space as a tool to take advantage of Florida and Detroit. He made under the radar moves that were akin to Grabner, Matthias, and Arcobello signings. Far from lost when you consider they are around the Leafs in terms of their rebuild and their prospect pool rivals our own.

      They even have some bigger pieces to move at the deadline in Doan, Hanzal, Vrbata along with depth like Duclair and Holland. You may scuff your nose at some of those names but look what the Leafs moved and got back and tell me they couldn’t do at least as well.

      • Capt.jay

        Agreed. Getting Chycrun (I’m sure it’s mis spelled) from Detroit for cap space only was brilliant. Cost then nothing as they don’t need that cap space this year.

  • XiC

    It’s in the past now but how many draft picks did the Leafs lose to get Holland? Didn’t they get Holland cause they lost Bolland who also took a bunch of draft picks to acquire?

    I think it was at least two seconds right? Just thinking about it makes me sad how this all came to nothing. It would’ve been far better just to have kept Joe Colborne.

    • Kevin

      I believe it was for one 2nd rounder but you’re right, they lost Bolland due to injury and had traded away depth in Colborne so they were forced to make a trade for a replacement.

    • Tigon

      It’s was Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz (who we let/told to stay with ANA farm team a la Matt Frattin being traded to Ottawa but staying with the Marlies) for Jesse Blacker (former 2nd) plus a 3rd that turned into a 2nd and ANA 7th back.

      Prior to that we traded Joe Colbourne to Calgary in order to to keep both Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren on the Leafs roster over him for a 4th round pick.

      The situation as a whole looks like a big loss. Even when we acquired Holland people were screaming we wouldn’t have to acquire him if the didn’t keep both Orr and McLaren over Colbourne. That’s luckily in past, part of the Burke, Wilson, Nonis and Carlyle era.

  • Stan Smith

    You talk about Holland having Smith beat in most metrics and then refer to an article by Ryan Hobart that shows Smith being better at every defensive stat, including the power play.

    To me, despite only getting a possible 6th round pick, the deal still has a lot of positives for the Leafs. I wish Holland the best, and hope he gets more of a chance with the Coyotes.

  • Capt.jay

    I don’t really think holland was given a fair chance with anybody decent for any period of time. I remember seeing some good play out of him when he played higher than the forth line. I do think however there were attitude issues in there somewhere. Had he gotten any kind of chance we my have gotten more for him.

    Mind you, he went on waivers and nobody took him so there’s that.

    • Stan Smith

      NHL history is full if fringe players that never got a fair chance. There is also the rare late bloomers who do find a home with a team. Playing in Arizona, out of the spotlight, might be the best thing to ever happen to him.

  • FlareKnight

    Best of luck to Holland, but he had to go. There were guys the team believed in more on the Marlies. Just didn’t have a place and best to get him somewhere he’ll have a fresh start. Maybe he’ll be solid for Arizona.

    Free up a contract spot and maybe get a pick down the road. Moving the contract was more important. Can’t keep everyone and better to get possibly something for Holland then waive him for nothing.