“Everyone is a potential trade piece,” writes Luke Fox of Sportsnet in a recent mailbag article about the Toronto Maple Leafs. That said, when Fox made the statement, he was exclusively referring to a question about the chances defenseman Justin Holl could be moved by the hockey club if the salary cap numbers can’t be ironed out.
The good news is that Holl has an affordable contract for three more years which means he’s not a contract concern in Toronto. The bad news is, any affordable contract will go into the mix of names that could potentially be moved in a pinch. Still, Fox goes on to note that the Toronto Maple Leafs have done some serious work crunching their salary cap numbers and they believe they can find a way to head into the 2020-21 NHL season with their roster as is.
If so, Holl would remain on the as a right-side defenseman, likely sandwiched somewhere between newly-signed additions T.J. Brodie and Zach Bogosian. If not, Holl’s name could be among the many that get tossed out there as a final-ditch effort by GM Kyle Dubas to get the Leafs cap compliant.
Don’t Expect the Leafs to Sacrifice Holl If a Sacrifice Must Be Made
Fox suggests to avoid a trade, the Leafs will need to push some NHL-type talent to the Marlies to make the numbers work. But, if a trade is unavoidable, the Leafs would prefer to trade a forward, where they have a bit of a surplus.
Dubas has come to realize that depth on defense is important with unexpected injuries. Holl could be an important piece for the Leafs moving forward, especially so if injuries rear their ugly head which they have in the past.
Not only that, but the market for Holl, should he become available, is a bit iffy. Fox writes:
With UFA defencemen like Sami Vatanen, Andy Greene, Travis Hamonic, Brandon Manning, Ben Hutton and Slater Koekkoek still available on the open market, how many teams are lining up to trade tangible assets to commit $6 million to Holl?
Consider that Nate Schmidt only yielded a third-rounder when he was moved from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Vancouver Canucks. It would be hard to envision a scenario where the Leafs could do anything other than practically give Holl away. That just doesn’t seem like the right decision to make when he could be a useful part of your roster.
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