Nick Holden 2017-18 Expectations

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Not often does a player spend a summer being part of trade talk and end up playing for that team. Yet here we are, on the verge of the 2017-18 season, and Nick Holden is still a member of the New York Rangers.

Regardless of personal opinions, Nick Holden is going to look to build on his 2016-17 year. His play took a hit throughout the season and left plenty to be desired in the postseason; but he still had a career year with 34 points (11 G, 23 A). Likely to be paired with Marc Staal, what can be expected from the new number 55?

Situational Awareness

From the non-statistical aspect of his play, Nick Holden needs to be smarter. Holden had a roller coaster seasonĀ and was arguably a top defenseman at the beginning of last season. By the time the home stretch came, many were calling for him to be a healthy scratch. Many times when players have a career year, they try to change their game. Nick Holden is far from being a true offensive defenseman, but at times his game showed aggressiveness as if he was.

Holden needs to understand his game and not take unnecessary chances. Pinching from the neutral zone and making a mistake leads to unfavorable situations for the team. In the preseason already, Holden has made some very questionable plays that have caused odd man rushes. It cannot be stressed enough; if Nick Holden is paired with Marc Staal, Holden cannot leave Staal out to dry, or vice versa. If Holden is pinching and leaves a two on one rush against Staal, it hurts the team. Holden needs to be smarter and recognize where he can make a play to help offensively and when he can’t.

Expectations

Career years are well, best seasons in a career. It would be surprising to see Holden with close numbers to what we saw last season. I see him being more of a six-goal, 15 assist guy. Most importantly, he was a +13 last season. If he can be the plus defenseman he was during the regular season, as opposed to the minus player in the playoffs, that’s all the team can ask for.

The bottom pairing has to be better. This preseason has shown that there is some extremely talented young defenseman in the Rangers system. They are chomping at the bit and should a defenseman’s play decline, the young guys are going to make it easy for coach Alain Vigneault to make a change.

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