What's the Return for Golden Holden?

By now, a Nick Holden trade seems like a certainty. While Jeff Gorton’s move to send a fourth-round pick to the Avalanche for the 30-year-old defenseman seemed savvy as “Golden Holden” earned top-four minutes through the first half of last season, he didn’t do enough in the second half of the season or playoffs to warrant a second year with the Blueshirts.

Jason Brough makes an interesting point in questioning Holden’s value.

What’s unclear is Holden’s value on the trade market. After all, the Rangers only gave up a fourth-round draft pick to get him from Colorado. Has his value risen significantly since?”

At first glance, Holden, who had 11 goals and 23 assists along with a +13 rating (nearly the same line as Matt Dumba), would seem to be worth more than just a mid-round pick. Make no mistake about it, Holden—similar to Kevin Klein before him—had some excellent moments in the offensive zone.

But on the flip side, has any player in recent Rangers’ history seen his value plummet so quickly during the course of a season? Considering his dreary playoff performance, it’s highly unlikely that the 30-year-old would fetch more than a fourth-round pick.

Since the value of Holden’s career-best offensive play is so fluid from team to team, it’s difficult to speculate what his return could be. But the name that seems to make a lot of sense is Tyler Bozak. The Leafs could be looking to shed his salary or get value before he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after this season and, as Toronto needs defense and the Rangers need a center, a flip seems natural.

As Dan Rosen speculates, “It’s fair to assume that if the Maple Leafs are interested in Rangers defenseman Nick Holden, the two sides might be able to work something out.”

Gorton would have to send more than Holden to Toronto, but, in terms of how the rosters would shake out, a one-for-one deal makes sense. New York would most likely have to include a pick or a mid-level prospect, maybe Ryan Graves, to get the trade done, but it’s sensible for both rosters. Holden provides some solid depth and Bozak would fill the gameday void left by Derek Stepan while taking some pressure off of the $26-million-dollar man Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Plus, he’s a stop-gap solution that will give seventh-overall pick Lias Andersson time to develop before being forced into the Rangers’ lineup.

Outside of Bozak, there aren’t a lot of names that seem to make a lot of sense. There are a lot of teams in the league who could use Holden and would, presumably, be willing to part with a draft pick for his services, but, in terms of players who could fit on the Rangers roster immediately, there are few options. Alex Galchenyuk would be similar to Tyler Bozak, and Montreal certainly needs defense, and Holden has some value as part of a package to Edmonton for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or back to Colorado as a piece that brings Matt Duchene to New York. But, at this point, these types of trades seem unlikely.

Chances are, the Rangers will settle for a mid-round pick for Holden and move forward without him. But regardless of his trade value, evidence suggests that he no longer has a spot in New York. After all, he doesn’t even have a number.

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