Peter Holland’s stint in the minors didn’t last very long, but the Toronto Maple Leafs will now need to give him consistent ice-time if they want to take advantage of his talents.
Holland was sent down to play with the Toronto Marlies for two games after a month of NHL action concluded with four straight games where he received less than nine minutes of ice time. Holland became Toronto’s second-line center when Nazem Kadri moved to the top-line to replace the injured Tyler Bozak. Once Bozak returned, Kadri returned to centering the second-line and Holland quickly saw his minutes decrease.
Holland was playing a fourth-line center role for the Maple Leafs before being sent down to the Marlies. However, Holland played well during his time on the second line and even had Coach Randy Carlyle commenting to the media that Holland may replace Kadri as the team’s second-line center. When Holland had 10 straight games of double-digit ice-time, he produced eight points and had an even plus/minus rating.
Holland was sent down to the minors because Toronto management believes they need him in an offensive role more than in a checking role where he’ll only play limited minutes on the fourth line. However, now that he’s been recalled after scoring three goals in two games with the Marlies, the Maple Leafs need to put Holland in a situation where he can produce offensively. It makes no sense for Holland to play single-digit minutes in the NHL when he can be furthering his development while being a much bigger contributor at the AHL level.
Ideally, Holland should be used as the team’s third-line center where he could potentially move up to the second line if Kadri is struggling. The Maple Leafs were at their strongest last season when they had three offensive lines that were highlighted by Phil Kessel and Bozak on the top line, Kadri and Joffrey Lupul on the second line and Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur on the third line. With Grabovski and MacArthur no longer on the team and Dave Bolland injured for most of the season, the Maple Leafs have lost their scoring depth.
Holland must be used to help replace the lost scoring depth from last season and give Toronto three potential offensive lines. He’s proven he can score at the NHL level when he was given the opportunity and the team has nothing to lose by giving Holland minutes as the third-line center because Jay McClement isn’t an offensive player. McClement might be Toronto’s current third-line center and he might be better defensively than Holland, but the Maple Leafs need more offense and McClement is at his best as a fourth-line checking center.
Recalling Holland only makes sense if Toronto gives him quality minutes. Given how the Maple Leafs are becoming desperate to save their season, giving Holland the chance to become a consistent contributor might be a gamble worth taking.