By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
The Bruins have acquired a player from the New York Rangers.
No, not that one.
Nope, it’s not a forward.
Nope, wrong defenseman. This is way more difficult than it should be.
Yeah, I didn’t have them picking up Nick Holden either.
The Boston Bruins acquire defenseman Nick Holden from the New York Rangers, in exchange for defenseman Rob O’Gara and a 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick. Holden, 30, is in the final year of a 3-year contract he signed with the Rangers, at an annual cap hit of $1.65 million per year. Originally an undrafted free agent signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has 12 points in 55 games this season and is coming off a career year of 11 goals, 34 points in 80 games. O’Gara, 24, was a 2011 5th Round Pick of the Bruins and is in the final year of his 2-year entry level contract after a full four years at Yale, where he won the first National Championship in school history. The third-year pro has yet to record a point in 11 career games at the NHL level and has 8 points in 43 games for Providence this season.
But, what are the Bruins getting? Well, Holden is, to put it lightly, a replacement level depth defenseman. This is the best case scenario. While it was unlikely that Rob O’Gara would have passed all of Jakub Zboril, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, AND Charlie McAvoy, and therefore didn’t really have a place on this team long-term, he still has value as a young, defensively sound defenseman. What the Bruins REALLY are doing is upgrading Paul Postma. As their 8th defenseman. In exchange for a 3rd Rounder and a mid-level prospect.
Are you out of your mind?
Before everyone jumps down my throat, here is what I am talking about as it relates to Holden. Here is what he looks like from a puck possession standpoint as compared to the 8 defensemen who have seen regular time this year for Boston.
As you can see, he is the only one of the group who is less than 50%, which means when he is on the ice, the other team possesses the puck more than his team does. Not only is the only one, but he is also the only one by quite a margin. But, as some Holden fans will tell you, you get good offense from him.
Unfortunately, no. Only Adam McQuaid is worse than Holden at producing goals for his team, and they are the only two who, in general, allow more goals against than they generate for per game. While it is unsurprising that McQuaid struggles with this, Holden is clearly less than ideal.
As a fun aside, I took a peek at his penalty differential per hour – essentially, the number of penalties he takes in comparison to the number he draws per 60 minutes of ice time. While this is the only area where he is demonstrably better than Paul Postma, he is still second worst, and it is a bit concerning that he is below Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, two players who see much of their penalty taking come from fisticuffs.
But, it’s ok. We don’t need him to be world breaking, we just need him to fill a spot in the lineup. Right? RIGHT? Anyways, as you can see below, he almost exclusively starts his shifts in his own end. So, it is not encouraging that a player who starts in his own end most of the time cannot move the puck effectively out of his own end.
In all seriousness, he is the 8th best defenseman on this roster. A 3rd and a decent prospect is a lot to give up for a guy who is going to be your 8th best defenseman. And I could stomach him remaining in that role for the rest of the year, as this is probably a pure rental. But the concerning part is that there is a population of fans who seem to think Nick Holden is a new Top 4 defenseman who will supplant either Torey Krug or Brandon Carlo in that role. I hate to break it to you, but that is definitely not the case. Unfortunately, the price paid by Don Sweeney makes me think he falls into this camp. And if he isn’t, then he gave up a lot of value for a mediocre depth guy. Either way, the Bruins lost this trade. But at least they didn’t give up half of Causeway Street for McDonagh and/or Nash…
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