For the Toronto Maple Leafs, Justin Holl has represented a shining light in terms of developing and graduating a player to the big-time.
Unfortunately in recent months, other players that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been developing (namely Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin) have surpassed Justin Holl.
He now finds himself as the seventh man on the defense; a position nobody wants to be in, not least because it typically means a seat in the press box.
Timothy Liljegren seems to have cemented his spot in the line-up, especially given he has established such a strong partnership with Mark Giordano among others.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Justin Holl
The Toronto Maple Leafs of course, plucked Justin Holl from relative obscurity after he wasn’t tendered an entry-level deal by the Chicago Blackhawks, after being picked 54th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
He arrived with the Toronto Marlies on an AHL contract, working hard enough to earn his first NHL call-up in January 2018 before returning to the Marlies to help them lift the Calder Cup.
Following that, he finally found himself offered an NHL deal and worked hard to establish himself as an option for the Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line as one half of a surprising shutdown pair with Jake Muzzin, eventually earning a 3-year deal.
Unfortunately for Holl, this season has seen Jake Muzzin in and out of the line-up due to injuries and he hasn’t really been able to up his game on a different pairing.
Couple that with the strong performances of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, plus a reticence to sit a $5.625 million a year contract in Jake Muzzin and it’s easy to see why Justin Holl is now the odd man out.
Nobody could have predicted that Ilya Lyubushkin would be the perfect fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he has proven so. Add in the signing of Mark Giordano at the trade deadline and you’d have to imagine that Justin Holl would’ve seen the writing on the wall.
The question remains though as to what the Leafs do with him this summer. His performances, on occasion, match his $2 million contract next season. On other occasions though, he is vastly overpaid.
The Leafs will certainly hope to free up the money you’d have to imagine, especially as Liljegren and Sandin need contract renewals. An extra $2 million would go some way to helping with those, at the very least.
The odd man out still needs to keep himself ready to slot into the line-up at a moments notice. In fact, he’ll be slotting in for his often partner, Jake Muzzin, versus the Ottawa Senators on Easter Saturday.
Right now, Justin Holl just needs to perform any time he gets into the line-up. That way, the Leafs know they have at least one strong fall-back option if injuries stack up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.