In this edition of The Old Prof’s Random Thoughts about the Toronto Maple Leafs, I’ll consider the following question: “What is Justin Holl’s value to the team?”
Justin Holl Can Infuriate Fans, But …
There’s some truth to the sense that, as a defenseman, Justin Holl can be infuriating to fans. It seems that when he makes a mistake – and all hockey players do make mistakes – it’s there for everyone to see. When he’s noticed on the ice, it often isn’t for something on the positive side of the ledger.
But there are times when Holl goes virtually unnoticed. That’s when he’s playing well. And, that has been happening more this season than in others it seems.
Sure, there was a time a few seasons ago when Jake Muzzin was in his prime and playing well that the combination of Muzzin and Holl produced a shutdown defensive unit. Then, Holl’s game suffered without Muzzin or when Muzzin was playing hurt (and poorly). This season it’s been different.
Holl has been playing pretty solid defence in partnership with some of the team’s other defensemen. That’s impacted Holl’s reputation with fans. Fans have traded Holl thousands of times in their conversational desires over the recent seasons. Sometimes giving him away for nothing seemed to add more value in their minds than keeping him. Not so much this season.
The Maple Leafs Have Not Waivered on Holl’s Commensurate Value
In their wisdom, the Maple Leafs’ organization seems to value Holl “accordingly.” Fans can blast Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas for being extravagant with the team’s financial resources and salary-cap space. But Dubas seems to have nailed an appropriate contract that represents a good “read” on Holl’s value to the team and the organization. He’s a good $2 million defenseman.
Holl was one of four defencemen the Leafs protected in the expansion draft, and they did it for good reason. As noted earlier, he does make some pretty obvious misplays at times. But, he’s physical, steady, and he’s also reliable.
Holl Seems to Be a Positive Force on the Team
He also seems to be a character. When the Maple Leafs’ tweet one of those regular features when someone asks the team members a question when they’re leaving the ice after practice – such as “Who’s the best person to sit with on the plane?” – often Holl’s name comes up. He’s a good video game player? He has the best laugh. He eats odd stuff.
The point is that there’s more to a team than what happens on the ice. And Holl seems to be one of those unique (and strange) personalities on the team. Having been a part of teams before – both as a player and as a coach – he’s the kind of guy who can help boost dressing-room morale.
All in all, from what I’ve been watching, Justin Holl has provided solid value to his team. The organization clearly wants him on the roster, and his teammates seem to appreciate him. I doubt that Holl will be traded any time soon, regardless of what fans might desire.
BTW, I wrote that entire post without noting that Holl is a highly-valued right-shot defenseman. Even if he weren’t, he be a good addition to the Maple Leafs’ roster.