No. 3: Justin Holl
Holl’s one of the longest reigning players in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, having joined the Marlies during the 2015-16 season.
His story is one that every minor hockey player should follow because it’s filled with pain and pleasure. Holl’s went from being a second-round draft pick, scoring a huge goal in the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament and being on top of the world.
From there, he battled in the East Coast Hockey League for one season, three years in the American Hockey League, then finally got to play his first National Hockey League game eight years after being drafted.
After finally thinking hew as a full-time NHLer, he was then healthy-scratched for 71 games. Since that happened, he’s proven the entire NHL community (and Mike Babcock, especially) that he belongs in the NHL on a regular basis and is a true professional.
Regardless of the ups and downs of his hockey career, his time in Toronto is probably coming to an end. His $2M contract is a fair price, but he’s proving that he’s not a top-four defenseman this year. He should be the fifth or sixth defenseman at best, so Holl’s more than likely going to get moved to create cap-space for someone who can play in the top-four.
It would be nice to see the Leafs keep Holl while upgrading the top-four defense, but he seems like the most likely and best asset to move in order to upgrade the team.