Joined: Jul 2018
This is a good bet by the Leafs. It wouldn't be a hard contract to get out from under if need be, but realistically, he will likely outpeform the cost by a significant amount.
Holl has played like a legitmate 2nd pair shut down D this season. A lot is made of the Leafs having a weak D core, and while the group hasn't produced the results you would like to see as a whole this season, saying the group is weak is a bit simplistic.
The team has been a middle of the road defensive team since Keefe took over. They have been a juggernaut offensively, and Barrie and Rielly give up quite a bit defensively, but they easily make up for it at the other end. Barrie and Muzzin have actually looked like a top a pretty high end shut down duo since the coaching change, and if you consider that none of the Leafs forwards lines really constitues a shutdown line, I think their results have been pretty impressive.
The gamble hasn't been Holl's performance, it's the sample size and age. The bet here is that Holl is pretty much what we have seen this year, and if he is, or is even close, this is a slam dunk win. However, they are betting on a 27 year old former ECHL defensemen having essentially a good half season in the NHL. That's a small sample size. That's the risk in this, as they are giving him 3 years.
All in all, Keefe and Dubas feel vindicated as they saw his ability in the NHL and were extremely high on him, and were sure that he was an NHL player if given the shot. So now that he made good on his shot, they feel strongly enough that this deal is a big time win.
Personally, I like gambles like this, because they are easy to get away from. Moving a $2M D isn't hard, and given that you could pay a #6 D this kind of money and still not have it be wasted, they don't need to be 100% right for this deal to be OK. Realistically this is the type of bet Dubas needs to make since he placed so much of his payroll at the top of his line up. If he can't grab value on some deals like this from time to time, the large committment to his star forwards isn't workable.