Longtime NHL defenseman Nick Holden is retiring after a 12-season career and will immediately join the Vegas Golden Knights’ player development staff, according to a team release. His specialty will be working with the team’s group of young defensemen.
Initially eligible for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Holden went undrafted and didn’t make it to an NHL organization until the Columbus Blue Jackets signed him to an entry-level contract in 2008 after completing his junior career with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins (who have since relocated to Victoria to become the Royals). He would remain in the Blue Jackets organization until 2013 but spent most of it in the AHL, playing just seven NHL contests without recording a point. An unrestricted free agent in 2013, he signed a two-year, $1.2MM contract with the Colorado Avalanche, which jumpstarted his career. Finally playing his rookie campaign as a 26-year-old in the 2013-14 season, Holden recorded 25 points in 54 games for the Avs while averaging nearly 19 minutes per game.
He would settle into a top-four role during his peak, averaging over 20 minutes per game from 2014 to 2019. His career-best season came as a member of the New York Rangers in 2016-17, posting 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 80 games and a +13 rating. With the Rangers struggling the following season, however, they dealt him to the Boston Bruins at the 2018 trade deadline, where he played a depth role down the stretch. That led him to sign with the Golden Knights for their second season, and he gave them solid play over the course of three seasons from 2018-19 to 2020-21. After slipping down the depth chart and playing just 17 regular-season games in 2020-21, however, they dealt him to the Ottawa Senators in a swap for scoring winger Evgenii Dadonov.
Holden spent the final two seasons of his career in a Sens jersey, recording 35 points in 141 games while averaging 18:24 across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 campaigns. His final NHL appearance came in an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on April 13 of this year, in which he recorded a +1 rating, four shots on goal, 23:13 of ice time, and one block.
After turning 36 in May, Holden steps away from the playing side of the game with 654 career appearances. During his time with the Avalanche, Golden Knights, Blue Jackets, Rangers, Senators, and Bruins, Holden amassed 52 goals, 126 assists, 178 points, and a +16 rating.
“Nick was widely respected by management, teammates, and coaches during his time with the Golden Knights as a player,” Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “He fills an important role with our player development and will work not only with our drafted prospects but also with our young pros with the Henderson Silver Knights.”
We at Pro Hockey Rumors congratulate Holden on a respectable career, and we wish him the best as he moves into the next chapter of his career in the sport.