When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for Peter Holland, they were in the midst of injury troubles. Now, just one season later, the 23-year-old is making a serious impact for the Leafs.
By Craig Hagerman
Peter Holland scored his fifth goal of the season Saturday night in the Maple Leafs 4-1 win over the Red Wings, and it was a beauty.
“I was able to strip the puck and drive the net and I saw at the corner of my eye it looked like he dropped a little bit,” said Holland, reflecting on his goal Saturday night. “I definitely wanted to get it on net and wanted to get it up I was just happy to see it go in.”
For Leafs coach Randy Carlyle the skill Holland showed on the play was not something he was surprised to see.
“Holland has always been able to provide offense at the levels that he’s played at, we’ve put him in some rolls, but he’s earned the opportunity too,” said Carlyle.
The 23-year-old Holland is a former first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, taken 15th overall, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Caledon, Ont. native has offensive capabilities.
Holland has been able to score wherever he has played from his minor midget days, to the Ontario League, and then in the American League.
During the Marlies push for the Calder Cup, Holland was a force on the team leading the way with seven goals and 15 points in 11 games.
According to Carlyle, Holland’s play this season really started when the offensively-gifted centre started to take on a more defensive role with the team penalty killing.
“I think the season for Holland started to turn around when he started killing penalties, he got more involved in the game and he got more involved in the pace of the game,” said Carlyle. “He’s done a heck of a job for us in the penalty killing part. You’ve got to tip your hat off to the guy because like I stated before because he came to us and asked for that opportunity.
“We felt of our big guys who had reach and skate and shoot, he would be a nice addition to the penalty kill and he stepped in and has been a great compliment.”
The Leafs acquired Holland last season when the team was decimated by injuries at centre to Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland early on in the season and has now started to become a more valuable part of the Buds’ top-nine.
Holland has recently found time in the team’s second line playing alongside Daniel Winnik and David Clarkson and the line has been in charge of shutting down some of the opposition’s biggest stars, including shutting down the Red Wing’s top-line of Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen.
Holland and his linemates obviously did a good job of keeping the Wing’s top-line at bay as the Wing’s top line was a combined -9 Saturday night.
The Leafs newly-appointed number-two centre is averaging 13:27 minutes of ice-time per game, though in the last 11 games Holland has not seen less than 15 minutes of ice, even seeing as much as 19:25 earlier in the month against Colorado. So he is obviously gaining the confidence of his coach.
He may have tremendous offensive upside, but Holland has been more proud of the defensive contributions he has been able to give the team, believing the highlight of his top-shelf goal Saturday was the way defensive play that made the goal possible.
“It definitely felt good, I think the biggest thing was just making the turnover and making a good defensive play,” said Holland. “I’d say the goal was the cherry on the icing there. It felt good to make that good solid defensive play there.”
Holland must be doing something to help the Leafs defensive game. The team’s penalty kill is currently ranked eighth in the NHL, a far cry from 28th place just one season ago.