Toronto Maple Leafs: How Justin Holl’s contract benefits team going forward

The Toronto Maple Leafs got some business done to year announcing a three-year contract extension with defenceman Justin Holl.

As he gets set to play in his home state of Minnesota, Justin Holl was given another reason to be thankful heading into 2020 as the defenceman signed a three-year contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $2 million annually.

The deal not only rewards a player who paid his dues and remained patient despite not knowing if he would get his chance to prove that he could be an everyday NHL player. Once Sheldon Keefe took over that was a notable change to the lineup when Holl was moved to the second pairing with Jake Muzzin.

In the first month of the season, the 27-year-old was averaging 13:38 TOI but has been asked to do more to the point where he is averaging 19:35 in December. He even had to step in to go up against Connor McDavid when the Leafs played the Oilers logging a career-high 26:10 after Tyson Barrie left the game.

What’s important here is what the Leafs are getting going into next season considering Morgan Rielly is the only player on the Leafs roster under contract. Of course, that doesn’t include Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren who should figure into the roster in some way whether full-time or as a callup.

At $2 million, Holl’s contract should provide the Leafs some flexibility to look at other options on the blue line or consider other players potentially in free agency or trade. For Holl, he doesn’t have to worry about where he will be playing as he was an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Considering how he’s jumped over Cody Ceci (and his abysmal $4.5 million cap hit) on the depth chart, Kyle Dubas should be thrilled about getting this done ahead of time. He’s proven to be more mobile, shown more poise with the puck and capable of closing the gap.

Now, the priority will probably shift to Travis Dermott who’s an RFA at the end of the season but the Leafs don’t have to rush into that unless they feel comfortable with a particular number.

Then there is Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie who are unrestricted free agents that the Leafs might want to bring back depending on how the season goes. At the same time, the Leafs might have some idea of some targets through trades or free agency.

Next: Frederik Andersen gets well deserved all-star selection

What do you think about the deal? What should be the next thing to do on the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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