Nick Holden - Defense
Acquired in a trade on February 20, the deal for Holden seemed in hindsight to be a bit of wheel-greasing with New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton in advance of the bigger news about a week later. Boston did need some additional shoring-up on defense, and Rob O’Gara was deemed the expendable piece, along with a 2018 third-round pick. Behind a secure top-six, Holden was brought in to fill in down the stretch, providing rest or as an injury replacement. When Charlie McAvoy went down for essentially all of March, however, Holden’s value was realized... and spent entirely. Without a spot to fill, Holden rode the bench in the playoffs until injuries created more opportunity.
SCoC Average Grade: C-
The problem for Nick Holden wasn’t of his own making. Were it a perfect world, Boston’s defense would have been healthy and we might have seen 10 games maximum from Holden, and none in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he was needed more than expected in the regular season. He performed what could have reasonably been expected, yet never truly looked comfortable with his assignments or pairing partner. He was placed into an entirely new system where he was intended to be a bit player, and just sort of rode his time in Boston. He was as advertised in a slightly larger role than expected, which is to say that he was a just-below-average replacement on a team that needed more of a boost from its bottom sets of players. He had an opportunity to prove himself more worthy of a larger role and couldn’t surpass his reputation.
Good for Holden on receiving a new and bigger contract in Vegas; if you base it on him looking more useful in sheltered starts, sure, he is a net positive player on a contender (we’ll have to wait and see how the Golden Knights’ sophomore season goes). However, over his last three seasons, he is well below average in offensive fancystats (at 44.9% for both Fenwick and Corsi For), which is not worth a $4.4 million investment over two years. He very well may perform fine as a third-pair defenseman on a contender, but I’d think that Boston’s future prospects look a little brighter than what he can provide.
Was Nick Holden better or worse than you expected?
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