Justin Holl is currently on the outside looking in at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ gameday lineup as the right-handed defenseman has struggled so far in 2021-22. With Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin becoming everyday NHL defensemen, the likelihood for Holl getting traded has increased tremendously. Let’s dive into a few potential destinations for Holl’s services.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings and Maple Leafs have a decorated history of trades and there certainly could be another one coming this season. The Kings have recently lost defenseman Drew Doughty for several weeks and lost Sean Walker for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. The team has become super thin on their right side and could see Holl as a reasonable replacement for some minutes on their back end.
Holl would provide the Kings with some experience as they are currently dressing four defensemen under the age of 24. The Kings are 3-5-1 on the season as of Nov. 1, and management has made a commitment to the aging core of the franchise that they will do what they can to upgrade their roster. We’ll see if these two teams kick start the trade chatter early on this season.
St. Louis Blues
Like the Kings, the St. Louis Blues and Maple Leafs have a history of making deals and there could potentially be some interest from the Blues in Holl’s services. The team is stocked with Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko as their top two on their right side and could slide Holl into the third pair. This would be a better position for him as perhaps the Leafs were asking too much out of him playing second-pair minutes with Jake Muzzin, which also included going up against the other team’s best players.
One name that appears to be interesting is Robert Bortuzzo. The veteran defenseman would be a rental for the Maple Leafs and given they lost a lot of sandpaper on defense when Zach Bogosian went back to the Sunshine State, the Leafs could see Bortuzzo as a great depth option.
Holl is three years younger than Bortuzzo, signed for next season and is someone at $2 million who the Blues could manage under their salary cap in 2022-23. Throw in a mid-level prospect heading back to Toronto, and this is a deal we could be talking about in the very near future.
The last time the Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames tried to make a deal, Nazem Kadri said no thanks. This time around there’s no Kadri to worry about and Holl would be front and center. Of the eight defensemen currently on the Flames NHL roster, only four of them are signed for next season. Holl’s $2 million ticket for next season is going to be a selling feature on his deal, regardless of how bad he’s currently playing, or not playing for that matter.
The Flames are red hot at the moment and are off to a surprising start. With how fragile their core is, and with some major decisions coming up next offseason, Calgary could be in the market for getting a couple of trades done early on, well before the trade deadline.
Holl would be an upgrade over Flames defenseman Michael Stone and the Maple Leafs could settle on including Stone in the deal, along with a pick or prospect. With Liljegren blossoming in front of our eyes, saving themselves the $2 million from Holl’s cap hit next season could be very appealing for a cap-crunched team heading into another flat-cap season.
So far in seven games with the Maple Leafs this season, Holl has zero points, is a minus-7 and has been yelled at by Auston Matthews numerous times for his bad decisions. He’s currently in the press box for game nights and if the Maple Leafs’ young defense duo continues to develop, expect the Maple Leafs to explore a deal before the Christmas break.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween