Don’t be surprised if the New York Rangers move out defenseman Nick Holden in the coming weeks. After signing Kevin Shattenkirk and re-signing Brendan Smith to long-term contracts last week, the Rangers now have five solid defensemen and rather than have Holden languish on one of the bottom-six defensive rotation spots, the team may be ready to use the veteran defender as a trade chip to acquire a center. According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the Rangers might be looking to use Holden to go after Toronto’s Tyler Bozak if the Maple Leafs make the 31-year-old center available now that they have signed Patrick Marleau to a three-year contract.
Toronto, which is currently over the cap by $3.9MM (via Cap Friendly) after the signing, must make a move to get them below the cap. Bozak would make sense as he is on the last year of his contract at $4.2MM and is not likely to be resigned with the Maple Leafs cap issues that will be greeting them in the future. Bozak had a productive season with Toronto last year, putting up 18 goals and 37 assists, while averaging 16:26 of time on the ice. The Rangers, who traded away center Derek Stepan to Arizona to free up some cap space to invest in their defense, must find help to fill that vacant center position as the team currently only has Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, J.T. Miller and recent free agent acquisition David Desharnais on its roster at that position. Bozak would provide that much needed depth and could even earn a spot as the team’s second center, according to Brooks.
The Rangers don’t need Holden as much on defense as they also have two young defenders who are ready to contribute on defense in 23-year-old Brady Skjei, who had a solid season for the Rangers last year, and 21-year-old Anthony DeAngelo, who they picked up in the Stepan deal. While the Leafs did just sign 36-year-old veteran Ron Hainsey from the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins to add to their defense, adding a quality veteran like Holden might be a good fit and offer defensive depth they currently do not have.