Peter Holland was most likely not a household name going into last week in Leafs land but the latest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs grew up a fan, wearing a Sundin jersey and was recently quoted as exclaiming that this was “a dream come true” for him. This was not the move many in the media industry saw coming with Claude Louiselle and Dave Nonis pulling the trigger on a trade for a relatively unproven prospect centerman to fill the void with David Bolland being out for most likely a considerable amount of time as opposed to a veteran or an expiring UFA contract. The Leafs parted way with Marlies defenseman Jesse Blacker whom appeared to be on the outside looking in these days, although his recent scratches with the Marlies may have had less to do with his relatively skill levels and perhaps this move will be the positive change in scenery that his professional career may have required. The Leafs also sent two 2014 draft picks to the Anaheim Ducks, a second round pick (if Holland stays in the NHL, a third round if he is does not) and a seventh round pick.
Holland put an exclamation point on what he brings with his first game with the Leafs putting up a 64% faceoff win percentage while playing between Kessel and Van Reimsdyke. Not bad for a first outing and his second against the Islanders wasn’t too shabby either. The 6’2”, 192lbs centerman was a first overall pick, 15th overall in 2009, the same draft that had Kadri taken 7th overall by the Maple Leafs. He has put up solid numbers in the AHL with 60 points in 71 games his first year and 39 points in 45 games in the second that landed him an extend NHL stint with the Ducks. So who is Holland and what does he actually bring to the Maple Leafs organization?
“Holland has begun to put his game together in the past couple of seasons. Where he was a player who could have been described as having all the tools but no tool box, Holland has evened out his effort and consistency. He is a big player with a soft touch. Although he is more of a shoot-first center, he has the vision and passing skills to be a respectable setup man.” according to Hockeysfuture.ca
The Hockey News has this to say about Holland “Assets: Is a versatile forward with scoring and all-around upside. Owns an ideal frame (6-3, 200 pounds) for the National Hockey League game. Flaws: Needs to make better use of his 6-3 frame, especially in terms of his physical play, in order to make an impact at the highest level. Career Potential: Scoring forward with upside.”
“We look at the long term for him and we think he has the potential to be a long-term player for us. Whether or not he continues to contribute here will depend on his play.” Stated Leafs GM Dave Nonis when asked about the trade. Whether Holland stays with the Maple Leafs past the point of both Kardi and Bozak returning will widely depend on his play. A savvy trade at least from the optical point of view, Holland brings the Leafs a much needed prospect at the center position who is a talented faceoff specialist with size and speed. He showed flashes of creativity and with some further seasoning could potentially crack the top six in a couple years time. This also allows the organization to further develop Greg McKegg who has also showed flashes of his overall potentially but still has a ways to go yet.
Also coming over in the trade was NHL stalwart Brad Staubitz, a 29 year old Bright’s Grove, Ontario native checking in at 6’1” and a solid 215lbs. The right winger has played the better part of six seasons in the NHL and brings another element of grit to the Marlies organization and another bottom six potential call up for the Maple Leafs if required. With Trevor Smith and Jerred Smithson still with the big club it will fall to Staubitz and Troy Bodie as the veterans of the team to help stabilize and focus such a young roster. One interesting point to note is that Staubitz can play both defense and forward and actually entered the league as a defenseman. This type of utility could become a considerable asset for coach Steve Spott during the grinding winter months if injuries do start to mount.
The Hockey News outlines Staubitz as the following “Assets: An experienced and willing pugilist and agitator, he’s also versatile (with experience at both wings and defense). Has excellent team-first qualities. Flaws: A liability in his own zone, he lacks experience and offensive acumen as a forward. Also takes some bad penalties from time to time. Can’t be used a lot.”
Finally, the Toronto Marlies have moved forward Wade Macleod to their ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears. MacLeod who has put up 5 points in 13 games after returning from a scary seizure on the ice last year most likely was sent down to get additional playing time after the acquisition of Brad Staubitz and chances are he will be back with the club again soon. The Marlies at the same time called up goalie Christopher Gibson who appears to have stabilized and improved his game posting 2.70 GAA and a 0.901 SV% in 7 games while sending goalie Garret Sparks to Orlando. Sparks has had a rough 4 outings with the Marlies posting a GAA of 4.10 and a SV% of 0.848 and this assignment could be to get his confidence back up and stabilize his game. Given the play of defenseman Zach Yuen with Orlando I am personally curious if he is poised for a call up soon. As always food for thought.