In a move to shore up their blue line, the Bruins traded for Rangers defenseman Nick Holden, the team announced Tuesday. In return, the Rangers will get Rob O’Gara and a third round pick.
In the trade target rundown I put together a few weeks ago, here was my take on Holden:
I wasn’t high on Holden then, and I’m still not. If the Bruins are looking to bolster their depth, there were worse options out there, but Holden really doesn’t move the needle much.
I’m curious to know what the Bruins see in him that made him worth giving up a 24 year-old defender and a third round pick (more than the fourth rounder the Rangers paid for him less than two years ago).
Maybe some expert analysis can shed some light:
Why would you trade for Nick Holden? pic.twitter.com/PnZyuAFMHx— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 20, 2018
It’s hard to discern anything that Holden does very well, aside from being tall.
Perhaps the saving grace here is his usage. The Rangers have given Holden top pairing minutes, a task that’s probably just over his head. If the Bruins intend to slot him into the bottom pairing, the lesser competition he’ll face should theoretically make him better.
The flip side to that is that he’s played the vast majority of his minutes this year with Ryan McDonagh, who is excellent. Frequently, great players will boost the performance of their weaker linemates, something that just hasn’t happened with Holden.
Going back to my initial analysis, I thought Holden was one of the most obvious depth options on the market. I also didn’t anticipate the Rangers getting more than that fourth rounder they initially paid for him. I can’t help but wonder if the Bruins had surveyed their available options and just didn’t like what they saw in guys like Johnny Oduya or Kevin Connauton.
There’s also some disturbing timing with this trade: The Bruins announced it at almost exactly the same time the Canucks announced their (insane) contract extension with noted liability Erik Gudbranson. Make of that what you will.
On the whole, the Bruins probably paid too much for Holden, who isn’t noticeably better than any of the defensemen currently on the roster. If they intend to use him to replace Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller, or even Adam McQuaid, there isn’t any reason to believe they’ll be better off. If we assume that Bruce Cassidy has lost all confidence on Paul Postma, there’s a chance that Holden is an upgrade to Level 9. But none of it can really justify the price tag.
Then again, a third round pick doesn’t have much value in the first place, and how much will we really miss O’Gara? These are minor pieces, even if they are too much. And if it keeps the Bruins from having to call up Tommy Cross in the playoffs, maybe it’s worth it.