Coyotes hope Peter Holland can fill need at center

Dec 9, 2016, 5:49 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs' Peter Holland celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during first peri...

Toronto Maple Leafs' Peter Holland celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during first period NHL action in Calgary, Alberta, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

(Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Peter Holland desperately wanted a fresh start. The Coyotes desperately needed help at center. On Friday, those two desires found a happy meeting place.

Arizona sent a conditional 2018 sixth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Lead for the unhappy and seldom-used center. Toronto will only get that pick if the Coyotes re-sign or trade Holland, otherwise, the Leafs get nothing.

“It’s a bit of a sigh of relief,” Holland said on a conference call Friday. “Things weren’t going as I wanted them to here in Toronto this season. I was just happy to hear the news today.”

Holland, 25, was a healthy scratch for 17 of the Leafs’ first 25 games this season and averaged less than 11 minutes when he was in the lineup. He did not accompany the team on its recent West Coast road trip and a meeting with GM Lou Lamoriello made it plain that Holland was not in the Leafs’ future plans.

Toronto wanted to get forward Josh Leivo in the lineup, but the desire to trade Holland was compounded by the fact that Lamoriello did not want a player in return.

“I felt like I had really good offseason and I felt like I had a really good training camp,” Holland said. “I thought I was playing well to start the year but obviously things took a turn for the worse.

“There’s a lot of very skilled young players coming up through the Leafs organization right now and I just don’t think I fit with their plans. I’m just happy we both agreed upon that and we just went our separate ways.”

Holland could fill a major need for the Coyotes, who gambled on the ability of Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak to contribute offensively this season, and then were rocked by the loss of Brad Richardson to a broken tibia and fibula that has him sidelined indefinitely and has forced the team to move Jordan Martinook to center.

“When you lose a Brad Richardson (you realize) how much he means to your group and your team,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “He’s just a solid, stable veteran centerman that brought a lot to our young group. When we lost him for an extended period of time we were looking for different avenues to improve our group.

“[Peter’s] been a pretty good player to date. He’s been somewhat productive in limited opportunities at times and he’s been a good stabilizing force in any position he’s used in. He’s coming into a group where we’ve got a lot of injuries and just underperformance. He’s a guy that will certainly get opportunity.”

Anaheim selected Holland with the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. On November 16, 2013, Holland was traded, along with Brad Staubitz, to Toronto for Jesse Blacker and two 2014 draft picks. In 203 career games with the Maple Leafs and Ducks, he has 30 goals and 70 points.

Holland won’t be available to play on Saturday against Nashville. He still has to sort out work visa issues but the Coyotes hope he will be able to join them as they begin a four-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Holland is playing on a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Per, the Coyotes are on the hook for $881,111 of that amount between now and the end of this season.

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Predators at Coyotes

When: 6 p.m., Saturday

Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale

TV: FOX Sports Arizona

Radio: ESPN 620 AM

Records: Coyotes 8-13-5. Predators 12-10-4.

Injury report: Coyotes — C Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is out indefinitely. LW Max Domi (head) is day to day. Predators — D Ryan Ellis (upper-body), Anthony Bitetto (upper body) and Fs Colton Sissons (upper-body) and Miikka Salomaki (hand) are on IR.

Scouting the Predators: Nashville is just 3-8-2 on the road. Only St. Louis has earned fewer points on the road among Western Conference teams and the Blues have played two fewer games. … F Viktor Arvidsson (2) is the first Predators player with multiple shorthanded goals in one season since Shea Weber in 2011-12. Arvidsson, 23, has already recorded a career-high in goals with nine. … A win against the Coyotes would give G Pekka Rinne his 250th NHL win. He’d join seven other active goalies to reach that mark. … D P.K. Subban already has a career-high seven goals. … Former Coyote C Mike Ribeiro leads the Predators with 18 points.

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Coyotes hope Peter Holland can fill need at center