Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who is Peter Holland?

peter holland leafs trade
After one game of Jay McClement as the team's best natural centre, the Leafs addressed their desperate need down the middle by making a deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Leafs acquired Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz from the Ducks on Saturday, shipping out Jesse Blacker, a conditional third-round pick (that could become a second-round pick if he plays 25 games), and a seventh-round pick (which was originally Anaheim's).

The primary parts of the deal, Holland and Blacker, were both blocked in their respective organizations, with Anaheim deep at centre and Toronto deep on the blueline. Blacker had fallen so far on the depth chart in Toronto that he has been a healthy scratch for much of the year with the Marlies.

Dave Nonis did well to deal from a position of strength to get a quality NHL-ready prospect when the Leafs were in such dire need for help.

A first-round pick back in 2009, who had "power forward written all over him", Holland has put up good stats in the AHL, with 105 points in 119 career games. Described as a shooter, Holland owns ideal NHL size at 6'2, 194 lbs, although to make an impact he needs to start using that frame more. In that sense, Holland is quite similar to Joe Colborne, the centre the Leafs let go for a song earlier this year.

A scouting report on Holland from Gus Katsaros could have been copy and pasted for Joe Colborne.

"Smooth, fast, and rangy on his feet—displays good athleticism... nifty stickhandler able to make quick, skilled plays in traffic... protects the puck exploiting a tall, lanky frame... best weapon is a crisp wristshot and snapshot that he can unload in top gear... textbook smart yet prone to lapses in decision making... can be Jekyll-and-Hyde at times—dominating one shift and reluctant to compete the next... must continue to upgrade his battle intensity and overall focus—idles defensively and passes on opportunities to finish checks... doesn't yet utilize his stick and body productively, albeit can develop..."

Corey Pronman made a similar assessment.

"Holland is a gifted offensive player. He is very skilled with the puck, with the quick movements, hand-eye coordination, and offensive knowledge to make a lot of individual plays. Holland has good vision as well. With his ability to create space, thanks to his speed and hands, he can put himself in good positions to set others up. He has gotten stronger, and he has shown more value in his physical game. Holland has really improved his all-around game, but his defense and game-to-game effort can still be issues."

Hockey's Future grades Holland as a 7.5, which means his upside is somewhere between a first- and second-line centre, with a "C" realistic probability rating (meaning Holland "may reach potential").

"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."

At this point he hasn't made much of his time in the NHL, registering five goals, two assists, and 30 shots on goal in 29 games over parts of three seasons. Holland should get his first real shot at substantial top-6 minutes with the Leafs, at least while Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak are out of the lineup. Even once those two are back Holland still has a chance to play decent minutes on the third line, depending on how well he plays.

He's definitely an interesting pickup. In 2012 Anaheim Calling described Holland as the Ducks' "most talented centre prospect since Getzlaf" and thought Ducks' fans should be "salivating at the possibility of Holland in a Ducks sweater." Although since that time he's been surpassed by William Karlsson in the organization and was ranked as the Ducks' ninth best prospect by Hockey Prospectus before the start of the 2013 season.

Thanks to injuries in Toronto, Holland now has his first real long look in the NHL, so now's the time to prove he can play. 

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