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Should He Stay or Should He Go: Nick Holden

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Nick Holden - A bright future with the Jackets? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Nick Holden - A bright future with the Jackets? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Name: Nick Holden
Position: Defense
Status: RFA
2010-2011 Salary / Cap Hit: $875K (NHL), $65K (AHL) / $941,667
Last 3 Years AHL Stats:

Year GP G A PTS +/- PIM
2010-11 67 4 21 25 +2 63
2009-10 68 6 17 23 -9 52
2008-09 61 4 18 22 -11 46

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all readers of The Cannon!

2010-2011 marked Nick Holden's third season in the Blue Jackets organization. Nick signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008.

Excluded from the stats table above, Holden got his first taste of the NHL this season. In fact, he was the first of this season's Springfield Falcons to get the call. For the Jackets, he played in five games from October 20th to October 30th. He averaged about 17 minutes a game while with the Jackets.

One of only five Falcons to finish the season in the black as far as +/- goes, Holden showed consistent improvement on the blueline as the season progressed. On June 15th, Aaron Portzline reported that he expects the Jackets to tender a qualifying offer to Holden.

What's He Worth?

Something that factors into Nick's value to the organization, is his size. He's a big kid, at 6'4". I've mentioned here before, if Nick added another 10 pounds of upper body strength, he could be the imposing physical presence that the Jackets really need on the blueline.

As the season progressed in Springfield, Nick's confidence appeared to increase. Also, his hockey sense increased as well. There was a tremendous difference in the October Nick Holden and the March Nick Holden.

However, everyday play in the NHL is going to require more than physical presence and hockey sense. It was my observation that sometimes, the speed of the game can catch Nick flatfooted. If he is going to grow as a defender and eventually prosper in the NHL, his speed and his quickness are going to need to improve.

Looking at the Blue Jackets defensively, and working on the assumption that both Jan Hejda and Marc Methot will be re-signed, it's likely that there will be one, possible two defensemen promoted from last year's Falcons lineup. Nick Holden should be one of those guys who gets the shot at regular ice time in the NHL.

What Should The CBJ Offer?

According to CapGeek's calculator, the Jackets qualifying offer to Holden should be $826,875. Due to the fact that Holden would no longer be on an Entry Level contract, such an offer would represent a large pay increase. Oddly enough, such an offer would actually decrease the Jackets cap hit.

Having had the chance to watch Nick play here for a season, I think with a strong showing in camp, he can become a regular part of the defense in Columbus.

Based on that, I would make an offer to Nick of either a two year deal at $1.75 million, or a three year deal at $3 million. In either case, Holden gets to establish himself as a National Hockey League defenseman. He gets the opportunity to be paid well. And whether a two or three year contract, if he's successful, it gives him the ability to negotiate a much bigger deal when this one expires at age 26 or 27.