Maple Leafs making the right decision by letting go of both Holl and Kerfoot

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
10 months ago
Changes are expected this summer for the Toronto Maple Leafs and from the sounds of it, the news has already started to trickle down. According to hockey insider Chris Johnston, Leafs general manager (GM) Brad Treliving has informed Alexander Kerfoot, Justin Holl and Michael Bunting they will all not be re-signed before free agency begins on July 1.
While Bunting is someone the Maple Leafs could potentially circle back on once some other offers start surfacing, Treliving has made two fantastic decisions letting both Holl and Kerfoot go. Both players were true professionals on and off the ice, but unfortunately, their talents are better suited elsewhere.

Holl Shouldn’t Have Lasted This Long

Watching Holl down the stretch and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season was tough to watch. His decision-making always seemed rushed and frazzled and there were numerous times throughout the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning where he looked a step behind. Not sure how exactly he managed to get back into the lineup in round two. That’s a good question for head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Holl’s someone Treliving needed to replace asap, so good on the new GM to get this one right. While he’s a decent penalty killer, the Maple Leafs won’t have any issues finding other blueliners to fill in on special teams. Expect to see Treliving add some nasty to back end in Toronto via trade or free agency this summer and it’s very likely Luke Schenn is also re-signed to a multi-year contract. Connor Timmins will be in tough to crack the lineup, but he’s a much better depth option moving forward than Holl.
Yes, Holl will land on his feet somewhere and likely sign for something around $2-2.5 million per season. Leafs Nation can now breathe easy. No more worrying about grenade outlet passes, or head-scratching decisions with the puck. Frankly, Holl was tough to watch on a good night and it’s great to see the necessary changes coming down the pipe from the new GM.

Kerfoot is too soft for Treliving’s style

Two things the Maple Leafs want to accomplish this summer is to become faster as a unit and to be tougher to play against. Kerfoot does help with the former, but he’s as soft as they come and is not a player built for the playoffs.
The Maple Leafs ‘Swiss-Army Knife’, Kerfoot was valuable at times because of his versatility. He could play all over the lineup and helped out in all special teams situations. The only issue was production and consistency, two things that go hand in hand. Long stretches without goals or even scoring chances for that matter, Treliving is making the right decision to change things up.
While Kerfoot provided a little bit of secondary scoring with his 10 goals and 32 points in 82 games last season, he basically disappeared in the playoffs. It seems to be a theme as he’s appeared in 48 career playoff games and has only recorded 18 points.
The Maple Leafs need to revamp their third line and create a shut-down trio who love to bang bodies, play an in-your-face style, but also have the ability to create some offence and chip in with secondary scoring. Kerfoot’s foot speed is solid and he’s reasonably defensively sound, but the issue here is toughness and finishing abilities. Treliving has made the right call; it’s too bad Dubas didn’t when he acquired Kerfoot a few seasons ago in the Nazem Kadri trade.
Holl and Kerfoot are two players who Leafs Nation blasted at different parts of last season. Holl more so than Kerfoot, but regardless, Treliving and the Maple Leafs are completing some smart business by showing them the door. The blue line needs to be refreshed and so too does Toronto’s third line. The 2023-24 roster is already in better shape with this addition by subtraction.

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