Leafs Swap Ashton, Holland

Looking for a way to shake things up after a pair of, lets be blunt, bad games against a pair of New York teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs have swapped around some of their youth, calling up winger Carter Ashton from the Toronto Marlies, and sending Peter Holland in his place.

Opinions are mixed regarding this decision (aren’t they always?), and it’s safe to argue in either direction. Here’s a bit of reasoning for both sides of the coin. 

Why it’s Bad

On Ashton’s side of things, it doesn’t appear that the Leafs have used him particularly well in this time with them. Relegated to fourth line minutes and a checking role (where he even seems pressured to fight, with two scraps this season), he has only produced one point in 33 NHL games. There seems to be potential for a much better offensive player, but how helpful is that potential if he isn’t allowed to use it?

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The same theory goes for Holland. The actual assignment isn’t his con; it’s the fact he’s been placed in a situation where the team feels it to be a good idea. Yes, Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri have earned higher spots in the depth chart than him. But before Bozak’s return, Holland was one of the best points/60 forwards on the roster. Even with four games of playing on the fourth line for less than 10 minutes per game, his 2.05 points per game, while unlikely to last, was well above average. Would there have been harm in continuing to give him some offensive minutes until he began to taper off?

Why It’s Good

On the other hand, Ashton deserves to be rewarded for stellar play. His 10 goals and 5 assists in 14 games, while helped by an abnormally high shooting percentage, are his best AHL totals to date. The "eyeball test" has him finding himself in much better positions to score than he has in previous years, and using his teammates better. While unlikely, maybe the Leafs actually give him an opportunity to showcase this ability while he’s up. At the very least, he gets a pay boost, and is a better option than the enforcers.

As for Holland, if you aren’t going to use him, you may as well let him dominate. While Greg McKegg has been solid, the Marlies definitely lack a top end centre right now. Putting him with Josh Leivo and Spencer Abbott could give the team a bonafide first line for the first extended period of time this year, and help with all of their development paths. As well, Holland is three NHL games played from triggering a condition in the trade that sent him here, bumping the third round draft pick given up to a second round pick. Granted, a move should have happened four games ago if one was to take that into consideration, but if he’s going to be buried, it’s best to not pay more for the privilege.

In Short

Ashton gets rewarded for his AHL success with a pay spike and a minutes crash. Don’t expect a ton. Peter Holland gets punished for injury returns by being sent down, but probably benefits from the extra minutes and develops himself along with his linemates. Besides, knowing this team, they’ll be down a centre in about six hours anyway.

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  • Cam Thornton

    I liked the move as Holland was good offensively but a liability defensively and needs to work on his game. I’m disappointed they brought up Ashton who hasn’t produced offensively in the NHL.

    Somebody like Bodie would have been a better call up (Komarov like) as he has shown the kind of 4th line grit and goal scoring ability that could spark the team. Carlyle just doesn’t see what is missing from this team is the grit, tenacity and fighting to intimidate the opposition and motivate the leaf players.

  • Bertly83

    There is no longer any point for this Toronto Maple Leafs team to ever dress Colton Orr and Fraser McLaren.

    They no longer fight.

    They play 5 mins a game, and when they’re on the ice they generate (do) nothing.

    Carlyle runs his other 3 lines a little too much, no wonder the energy drains as the game goes.

    Can we get a coach who can properly balance (and dress) 4 lines?

    • Timothy Ten

      I have lost ALL confidence in Leafs management. How you cannot send down Orr or McLaren is beyond me.

      Even if the draft pick upgrades from a 3rd to a 2nd, those two players do NOTHING in the present time. They no longer do their job because every other NHL player on the ice does not want to sacrifice themselves to go in the box to fight either of them. Every team in the NHL knows that it’s benefitial to actually have Orr and McLaren always on the ice because they don’t do ANYTHING, so why fight them and take them off the ice? Teams don’t want to take ice-time away from them because their hogging away ice-time from the better lines (because Carlyle is stupid).

  • Bertly83

    “Carlyle just doesn’t see what is missing from this team is the grit, tenacity and fighting to intimidate the opposition and motivate the leaf players.”

    lol yes, thats the issue

  • Cam Thornton

    I feel bad for Holland. Definitely one of my favorite younger Leafs I would love to see succeed. While I’m glad he’ll get first line minutes in the AHL over 4th line, Colt Knorr minutes in the NHL, I’m sure he’d do anything to be in the NHL.

    He’s still a young guy so I hope all this time in the minors and 4th line time won’t hurt his growth too much. He does have holes in his defensive game that I was hoping could be worked on in NHL level, but continuing to develop it in the AHL is probably ideal. Maybe give him some PK time?