The desire for the Leafs to add talent vs. the reluctance to trade a top asset

Today brings an end to The Leafs Nation midseason writer’s survey content. I hope people have found reading a flood of opinions this week and feel that we are closing it out with subject matter that will drive the discussion for the next couple of months and that is what the Leafs should do heading into the trade deadline. The general consensus is the Leafs should add someone really good, but they shouldn’t give up their best assets to do so. If only it was that easy (it was when Peter Chiarelli was a GM) but I think some of the nuances of the situation have been captured below and the numerous caveats that go into these tough personnel decisions are laid out.
The biggest deadline need for the Leafs
Jon Steitzer:
It has to be a 3rd line center that is capable of being a 2nd line guy if called upon. Holmberg has absolutely cemented himself as an every day player, and Kampf is still a steal, but neither of those guys work as replacements if Tavares or Matthews are hurt. Kerfoot, Jarnkrok, and Nylander are all poor substitutes in that role too. They need a legitimate option for the first time since Nazem Kadri and Holmberg can either play the wing as needed or be the 1 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs season from Holl

It brings me no joy to report that a one time ECHL reclamation project turned top four defenseman has taken a tour for the worse. I was an early adopter of Justin Holl fandom and it seemed like Mike Babcock would rob us of a good time. Sheldon Keefe gave Holl his opportunity and for one glorious season alongside Jake Muzzin it looked like the good times were never going to end.
Last season was a step back from Holl. The fact that Muzzin also took a step back or was absent due to injury often meant straining what could be achieved by Holl, but he still looked like a capable bottom pairing defenseman who was just being asked to punch above his weight class and fill in on the second pairing due to injuries. This year… well this year has been a mess.
Season
GP
TOI/GP
CA/60
CF%
GA/60
GF%
xGA/60
xG%
HDCA/60
HDCF%
PDO
20192020
68
15.92
54.76
51.80
2.44
51.65
2.30
53.00
10.97
51.71
0.998
20202021
55
17.60
53.13
49.85
2.54
53.93
2.11
54.51
9.30
55.49
1.010
20212022
69
16.90
54.17
52.22
2.73
51.82
2.37
54.69
10.19
57.33
1.003
20222023
9
16.61
58.21
50.51
2.41
40.00
3.07
43.83
16.46
35.94
0.969
Most notably with Holl’s numbers you can see the spikes in shot attempts against, especially those in high danger areas, and as a result there has been a significant impact on the expected goals against, which tell an interesting story compared to the goals against. It truly could be a lot worse, but the low GF% also speaks to the Leafs not producing offensively with Holl on the ice either. That’s a definite red flag for a defensemen the Leafs have needed to deploy in their top four due to Liljegren’s injury to start the season.

(red dots mean negative for/against differentials and all data is sourced from Natural Stat Trick)
Holl has struggled in the majority of his games this season. He had a strong outing against Washington, and statistically it wasn’t a bad night against San Jose, although the eye test would certainly disagree with the numbers, as Sheldon Keefe had to address Holl’s performance following the game…

Sheldon Keefe on Holl: “Justin likes really direct & honest feedback. We’ve given him that. Certainly, a little more direct here today because it’s been snowballing …” pic.twitter.com/BNsGoRnaaX
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 28, 2022

Last night did not help Holl’s cause and while the reality is he’s safe fo …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation