The Case for Peter Holland

If you asked me in the preseason which Leaf I figured I
would be writing off first, I probably would have said Richard Panik. If you
asked me for a second name, I probably would have said Peter Holland.

I have to say that no that the Leafs are essentially one
tenth of the way through the season, I am now singing a different tune on Peter
Holland, and am I now beginning to think he is being underutilized.

Already scratched once this season, it appears with Bozak
returning to the lineup it could be the second time in the press box for Peter
Holland this season or possibly it could be the end of Holland all together now
that Byron Froese has earned the trust of Mike Babcock over Holland and
Arcobello. This is an unfortunate thing to happen considering that the 24 year
old is one of the few players on the Leafs roster that could potentially be
considered worth hanging onto beyond this season and through the pisspoor
management of the Nonis regime, cost the Leafs a second round draft pick.

Peter Holland’s lack of appearances on the score sheet are
certainly part of his undoing, but he hasn’t been helped by his lack of ice
time or the equally slow starts of his most frequent linemates as Grabner,
Parenteau, and Arcobello are all trapped at 2 points or less. Holland remains
pointless at even strength, sitting at an on ice shooting percentage of 2.9%.

Given the Leafs lack of depth at center it’s interesting
that four times Holland has had the least amount of ice time at center in the
games he’s dressed and three times he’s had the third most ice time, once aided
by Bozak’s injury and the other two times Arcobello received less ice time. In
the two games since Froese has been recalled, Holland has been scratched for
Froese, and had less ice time than him.

So on the surface it seems like the organization isn’t
overly committed to the idea of exploring the possibilities of Peter Holland at
the moment, and considering a month ago that seemed like something that could
reasonably happen, why is it bothering me now?

Well. It’s because when Holland’s numbers show he’s actually
been pretty good and players are doing pretty well with him.

hollandwowy

With the exception of Leo Komarov, every forward who has
played at least 12 even strength minutes with Holland has had better
possessions numbers with him than apart. In fact, the only player on the Leafs
that Holland has a negative CF% and has played more than 4 minutes with this
season is Morgan Rielly, who when they are on together have 35% Offensive Zone
Starts.

When it comparing Holland to the other forwards
there are three worse forwards for offensive zone starts, and that’s the line
of Joffrey Lupul, Nick Spaling, and Daniel Winnik, all three are under 40 while
Holland sits at 42% (this is not including Froese who currently sits at 40
through 2 games). The Spaling line not surprisingly are the three worst CF%
forwards on the team, while Holland sits at 56.31%.
the third most ice time, once aided
by Bozak’s injury and the other two times Arcobello received less ice time. In
the two games since Froese has been recalled, Holland has been scratched for
Froese, and had less ice time than him.

LeafsCFvsZSO

The interesting things about Holland, especially compared to the other forwards with higher defensive zone starts is how low event he is. Immediately my reaction is that he’s been incredibly sheltered, and that still could be the case, but what is confusing me about that notion is that he has been playing in tougher situations on the road when the Leafs would have less control over who he lines up against, and his corsi events are significantly lower in that situation as well. While Spaling and Winnik have unquestionably been drawing the toughest assignments (i.e. going up against Kessel and Crosby), Holland at the very least has been going up against players you would want on the ice in a scoring situation and he has shut them down so far. 

He’s currently sitting at the unsustainable on ice save percentage of 100%, which is about as likely to last as his on ice shooting percentage of 2.9%, but he’s at least establishing himself as a low risk bottom six option which isn’t a horrible thing for the Leafs to have.

Dashboard 1 (2)

From Jonas Siegel of TSN:

Babcock is evidently looking for a hungrier Peter Holland to show up every day.

Holland was scratched for the first time this season over the weekend, returned to the lineup with Nick Spaling sidelined on Monday. Joining the Leafs two years ago from Anaheim, he hadn’t been scratched all of last season.

“Some guys, when you’re in third and fourth line, you’re on a tryout [every day], that’s just the way it is,” Babcock said.

“He showed me some clips,” Holland said of the coach, “and obviously I watch the games too and there were some plays in Buffalo that neither one of us was happy with. And it obviously it cost me a spot in the lineup in Montreal.”

The nice thing about viewing film of Peter Holland is that there hasn’t been that much, and when he’s actually been on the ice there have been even fewer events. Certainly through years of watching Carlyle beat up on Jake Gardiner we know it’s possible to pick out unfortunate moments to use as learning opportunities. Also, while I would love to see Peter Holland get a chance to show what he can do with increased ice time he hasn’t really done anything that makes it hard not to give it to him. 

Holland’s low risk/low event game is exactly what I would have begged for the Leafs to have in the past few seasons when it seemed that every shift was a shelling, and having a guy who can step on the ice for 40 seconds, give you forgettable hockey, but keep the score the same seemed like a pretty good deal.

It seems the standard is slightly different for Holland. If in fact Babcock wants him to develop into the offensive top six center Holland was drafted to be, he’s absolutely right to scratch him and be disappointed with the results. If being a solid possession player who keeps the bottom six forward group from being a pit of despair is acceptable, I don’t know why we haven’t been seeing more of Holland.

The one thing I do know for certain is that as the Leafs get healthy, and the Holland is increasingly in the press box, he will be at increased risk for being exposed to waivers. And if you put a center who only costs $775k and has a CF% of 56.31 on waivers, you’ll lose him. Teams are claiming Bobby Farnham, someone with actual NHL talent isn’t going to make it past the first team eligible.

  • Gary Empey

    One of Holland’s problems is his faceoffs. He also has trouble scoring when he gets a good chance. He is not considered a good passer. The rest of his stats are fine. If he is waived by Toronto, I can’t imagine he being claimed.

  • not_SorjeBalming

    Yes Babcock certainly isn’t pumping P. Holland tires.

    IMO He has been miscast and under utilized since he has been with the Leafs.

    Babcock should watch Hollands goals when he was with the Marlies. He was the “go to guy” , and often scored very timely goals. Why hasn’t he had any time on the top line with JVR?

    Holland has a little more size than Kadri and Holland plays a similar style to JVR -maybe there would be chemistry there-I always thought maybe shifting Kadi to the wing (as Kadri is not good on the draw)

    but my guess is we will never know -as he is being benched while Parenteau gets a pass….I remember 2 bad penalties Parenteau has taken at bad moments…to me that’s what should get a player benched.

    Kadri seems to be everyone’s darling this year. Fine he finally has a chance to be the first line center,
    but are things going that well with him in that position? Kadri is very predictable -I find it painful to watch him when he’s in close on a scoring chance, as he never seems all that dangerous.

    I think he was more dangerous offensively in his first year, before he had his scoring touched coached away, and I would say the same thing about Gardiner.

    Anyway
    “I talk to the wind, my words are all carried away…”

    • not_SorjeBalming

      Agree on Kadri 100%…he tries the same move on guys that maybe works 1/200 times. His toe drag combined with his weak shot do not make me think 1st liner. As bad as Bozak is…he is still close to Kadri in terms of production (which is sad for Kadri) Bozak couldn’t fetch anything worth trading for..

    • magesticRAGE

      Kadri is better at the dots than Holland, all the while facing the elite centers in the NHL. They are not comparable. If anything, Holland would make a better power winger than Kadri makingnthe move to the wing.
      Kadri has been a snake bitten stud thus far, maybe trying to do too much at times.

      • Kanuunankuula

        Holland has done a lot of penalty killing,
        which follows that many of his draws has been against the opponents top line.

        Now I haven’t got the stats in front of me -but hasn’t Winnik/Spaling line been drawing the assignments against the opponents top line?

        About who would make a better winger or center between Holland and Kadri- well the only way to really find out is to try the different combinations.

        I’ve just floated the idea a few times because of the lack of effectiveness of the Leafs first line and I think Bozak was more effective than Kadri has been this year .(though Bozak is definitely not the long term solution)

        The other problem is I think Kadri has never developed any great chemistry with any line mates he has had since becoming a Leaf.

  • not_SorjeBalming

    ok…I get the love of analytics…but Corsi ratings do not mean GOALS…it’s like we forget the game is played to score GOALS…not just have more shots than the other team (which btw is getting to be nuts when seeing our guys shooting at the net from angles that my Grandma could stop) to just pad their stats for contract time.

    I am sure the agents are all telling the players to “just keep shooting…who cares if your shooting % is 1%…your corsi will look amazing come contract time”.

    Holland is invisible along with PAP and Arcobello…I really don’t find these games fun to watch anymore (ya..I know Carlyle was stupid..blah blah) without Phil!

    • Kanuunankuula

      You do realize that corsi is by far the best predictor of future goals we have?

      As to other people complaining about Kadri’s production, his sh% is extremely low, and not going to stay that low. The goals will come, he is producing shots at a good rate. Mark Gregory’s point about chemistry: You really need time to develop chemistry, Kadri’s had a revolving door of wingers, as opposed to say Bozak, who’s been consistently with Kessel & JVR

  • Jeremy Ian

    I also had hopes for Holland — and still do. I don’t really care about the rentals like PAP since they are movable pieces; the issue is what value they fetch on the trade market.

    This is why Babcock is being so clear-eyed about Holland, trying to assess whether he’s going to develop into our third line center. On one hand, I like that Babcock is being serious about assessing the players. On the other hand, Holland’s rut is now getting pretty deep. If he can’t get consistent ice time and consistent line-mates, he’s the kind of player who’s going to be over-thinking what he’s doing.

    Justin Bourne wrote a clever piece about coaching transitions and the over-thinking threat. It immediately made me think of Holland.

    http://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/864998

  • magesticRAGE

    Holland is a better player than Acrobello, period. He’s better than Spaling as well. Agree, Babcock has a certain expectation from Holland with a position in mind. Some of tthe goals he has scored at the NHL level are legit NHL goals, and Babcock has not dismissed Holland’s talents, just his work ethic. If he improves his draws and hustle, he’ll be the 2nd line center for years to come.