The Toronto Maple Leafs have not signed left-shooting defenseman Rasmus Sandin. But when they do, something has to give – so it seems. Right now, which is allowable during the offseason, the team is over the upper limit of the salary cap.
It would seem as if, when Sandin is eventually signed, it would be for somewhere between $1.5 million and $2 million. That puts the team over the allowable cap space. Then, what to do?
To believe the trade rumours, the Maple Leafs have two people who are expected to be moved. One is Alex Kerfoot and the other is Justin Holl.
I Don’t Know What the Maple Leafs Will Do, But I Know What They Don’t Want to Do
The truth is that no one outside the inner confines of the Maple Leafs’ decision-making group knows which way the team is leaning. And it might not even be leaning. Given that finding good value for a trade you are forced to make can be difficult, Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas might be in a respond-to-the-best-deal mode. He might not even know yet which way he’ll move.
But I’m pretty sure that, for all the reasons that make Holl a valuable commodity to another team, he’s also valuable to the Maple Leafs. Holl is a 30-year-old right-shooting defenseman. He makes $2 million, which makes him a good value for what he brings.
Holl is not much for scoring but did score three goals and added 20 assists (for 23 points) in 69 games during the 2021-22 season. But he does play over 20 minutes per game, and that’s a pretty good hunk of time on the ice.
Right-Shot NHL Defensemen Are at a Premium
For some reason I don’t know, right-shot defensemen are at a premium. That makes Holl valuable around the NHL. But also to his own team. It would be unlikely the Maple Leafs would want to trade him away. That said, he might be seen as valuable enough to pull a prospect or two or even a draft choice or two.
Still, because Holl has been a regular part of a top-four defensive pairing, the Maple Leafs know they can play him without too much worry. He’s not a star, but he has value as an inexpensive, right-handed defenseman who plays a bit of a physical game.
While the Maple Leafs Might End Up Trading Holl, It Wouldn’t Be Their First Choice
As a result, don’t expect Dubas to rush to trade Holl. Still, Holl might be the team’s best option. Or, more to the point, he just might just be seen as the odd man out.
Holl’s size, experience, and the fact that he’s right-handed should make him easy to move. But, will the Maple Leafs do so? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I also wouldn’t bet against it.