The Leafs may have a star-in-the-making in Pontus Holmberg
Photo credit: NHL

Marner and Matthews both blown away by the skill of one young Leafs forward and it's not Matthew Knies

Published January 12, 2024 at 11:09

There are a lot of highly skilled players in the National Hockey League. I know, spoiler, right? We're all well aware of the skill that players like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and David Pastrnak possess, and as fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, we're well aware of the exploits of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, just to name a few. However, there's another young player in Toronto who appears to be a budding young star. No, I'm not talking about Matthew Knies either. I'm talking about Pontus Holmberg.

Holmberg is not seeing a ton of ice time, averaging a mere 9:47 per game this season, but there are two franchise players on the team who have been blown away by what Holmberg has shown them throughout his tenure in Toronto, dating back to last season, when he played 37 games as a rookie.

Last night, Holmberg stripped the puck off of Islanders star defenseman Noah Dobson with one hand, leaving it free for Auston Matthews to dangle, deke and tuck one home past a world class goaltender in Ilya Sorokin.

As amazing as the goal was, Matthews gave a lot of the credit to Holmberg for being able to make such a high IQ play in the first place. Matthews was very complementary of Holmberg during his post-game presser, stating that Holmberg's skill level is among the best he's ever seen. That's quite the endorsement from a guy like Auston Matthews, who is one of the best in the game today.

"He's an incredible, incredible player. Like, his skill level, it's up there with some of the best guys I've seen, honestly. He's got a great stick and really good anticipation." - Matthews on Holmberg

Matthews isn't the first star on the team to rave about Holmberg either. Earlier this week, Mitch Marner was stunned when Holmberg scored a goal one-handed while fighting off a check. He actually called Holmberg his favourite player during the intermission.

"That's a hell of a goal by Bergy. That's why he's my favourite player in the NHL. My reaction says it all."

Holmberg has just 13 games played this season after being beaten out in training camp for the final roster spot by a 19-year-old Fraser Minten, who came to camp and blew everyone away with his tremendous two-way skill set and poise with and without the puck. Since Holmberg has been recalled, not only has he played extremely well in very limited minutes, he has also seemingly stolen a roster spot from fellow youngster Nicholas Robertson. That should say a lot about what the coach thinks of Holmberg's game.

It's still far too early to gauge what type of a player Holmberg will be in the bigger picture. If his skill level is as high as Matthews and Marner seem to think, perhaps we have another top-six forward in the making in Toronto. If they're blowing things out of proportion, he still may be a very effective bottom-six player. Either way, for a former 6th round draft pick (156th overall in 2018), that's an absolute win for ex-GM Kyle Dubas to have pulled an NHL-caliber player that late.

January 12   |   701 answers
Marner and Matthews both blown away by the skill of one young Leafs forward and it's not Matthew Knies

Do you think Pontus Holmberg is a top-six quality NHLer?

Yes, absolutely. The eye test has been great24535 %
No, he's a quality bottom-six player though37553.5 %
No, he's a replacement level depth player8111.6 %
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