Polarizing Leafs blueliner wants extension in Toronto

Mike Armenti
May 30, 2023  (8:58 PM)

The Leafs are likely to experience somewhat of a facelift this summer, following the conclusion of the GM search in Toronto, with the Leafs hoping to lock down a suitable replacement for former GM Kyle Dubas in the coming week(s).

A number of players have already spoken out, declaring that they'd like to be back with the team next season, but some have remained fairly quiet on the subject of what comes next - especially the pending unrestricted free agents, one of whom is Justin Holl.
Holl has been maligned for much of his tenure in Toronto, largely due to some of his defensive miscues with the puck and his inability to clear the zone at times. Having said that, he is a pretty decent rush defender, he's a solid penalty killer and he also blocks a good amount of shots. If the Leafs bring him back, we're likely to see a good portion of the fanbase thumb their noses at the deal, but to be quite honest, the Leafs could do a lot worse for a 6th defenseman.
This week, Holl's agent, Brian Bartlett, revealed that Holl would like to stay in Toronto if the team is open to bringing him back next season. It's no surprise that he'd like to return, as the Leafs were responsible for signing and developing him from the ECHL all the way to the NHL, showing a lot of belief in him along the way.
"It's difficult to nail down with any certainty without a general manager in place, but he's very much open to coming back to Toronto. He has really enjoyed his time in Toronto, loved the city and fans. The team was really good to him. It's not a ‘get me out of here' situation at all. But we also recognize the reality of it, that the Leafs are going to have to, and want to, make some pretty big changes to that roster. And we recognize it's likely he would be a casualty of that." -Bartlett on Holl's desire to remain a Leaf

With the Leafs currently on the hunt for a new general manager, as Bartlett pointed out, it can create some lulls in communication. While the Leafs and the Holl camp aren't currently discussing an extension, Bartlett also understands that at this point in the year, a lot of teams have negotiations on hold while they look to replace their GM. There's no panic on their end, as far as Bartlett is concerned.
"The good news is, the games don't start till October. There's lots of time. There isn't a rush. We all know there are some moving pieces. From our end, we've been through it before. A lot of teams go through a period without a GM at this time of the year." - Holl's agent on remaining patient while the Leafs focus on their GM search

If the price is right, I sure wouldn't mind if Holl was back in that #6, #7 rotation next season. Every year, teams deal with injury issues and having an NHL-caliber defenseman that the team is familiar with isn't a bad thing - even if he is prone to the odd mental misstep.
30 MAI   |   681 ANSWERS
Polarizing Leafs blueliner wants extension in Toronto

Will Justin Holl be back with the Leafs next season?

Yes16023.5 %
No52176.5 %
Latest 10 stories