Imported from Colorado after a miserable campaign there the year before, Holden delivered a shockingly productive 2016-17 campaign, setting new career highs with 11 goals, 23 assists and a plus-13 rating. However, that goal total -- accompanied as it was by a 13.1 shooting percentage, very high for a defenseman -- is going to be hard to replicate unless Holden finds his way into increased power-play duties and starts shooting the puck more. He only put 84 shots on net in 80 games last year, after all. With the Rangers adding fellow blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk to run the point on the power play, they may not ask Holden to do much on offense in his age-30 season, but they'll surely relish his physicality and his ability to step up his game if and when other defensemen go down to injury.
The Rangers needed some fresh air on their blue line, and they got it on the cheap this offseason by sending a fourth-round pick to the Avalanche for Holden. A 10-goal scorer two years ago, Holden managed just six goals and 22 points while averaging a career-high 21:53 of ice time and playing in all 82 games last season. But he does play strong defense and dish out plenty of hits, which should endear him to Rangers fans looking for solidity on the back end. The undrafted blueliner should go undrafted in most fantasy leagues that don’t count hits and blocks, but he’s worth monitoring because of the reasonable chance that he picks up some power-play time.
Holden celebrated a successful rookie season by signing a new three-year contract worth $4.95 million with the Avs. A seemingly late bloomer, the 27-year-old put up a respectable 10 goals, 25 points and a plus-12 rating during a franchise-record 52-win season for the Avalanche. His goals and plus-minus were both second among Colorado rearguards, while his 25 points were good for fourth behind Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and the departed Andre Benoit -- albeit in just 54 games. As most players enter their prime around Holden's age, it's safe to bet on him increasing his overall production in 2014-15, especially since the soon-to-be sophomore will be afforded a nice cushion behind more potent offensive threats in Johnson and Barrie, who will be primarily counted on to carry the offensive load from the back end. With that in mind, Holden could thrive this year, making him a solid sleeper pick in deeper leagues.
Holden battled injuries last season and may have missed his window to get a look on the Columbus roster, as the club continues to add more youth and talent on the blue line. At best he's a third-pair prospect, but he could yet find a regular gig in the NHL. He saw five games with the Jackets last season, failing to register a point while grabbing nine in 25 games at AHL Springfield.
Holden has honed his craft at the AHL level the last few seasons, and is just about ready for a regular role as a stay-at-home NHL defenseman. If he doesn't break camp with Columbus, he'll be the first guy called up when injuries strike.
Depth defenseman scored 6-17-23 in 68 AHL games last season.
Depth defenseman scored 4-18-22 in 61 AHL games last season.
Minor league depth defenseman, but he does have a little upside.