Red Wings Sign Justin Holl to 3-Year Contract

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Justin Holl to a three-year contract paying $3.4 million per season.

In many ways, Justin Holl has been through it all throughout his hockey career. After being drafted in the second round back in 2010 by the Chicago Blackhawks, he went on to play four seasons at the University of Minnesota, one season in the ECHL, and then three more seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) before making a brief NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017-18. In all reality, he didn’t play a full NHL season until 2019-20, when he was 28 years old.

However, once he found his spot in the Maple Leafs’ lineup, Holl never really let it go, at times to the chagrin of Toronto fans. While he had plenty of high points over the last four seasons, he also had a lot of low ones as well, which made him a bit of a social pariah at times when things didn’t go well.

Justin Holl Toronto Maple Leafs
Justin Holl, formally of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

However, there is good in Holl’s game that still made him a valuable signing, especially in a relatively weak free-agency class. For example, he took on nearly three minutes of short-handed ice time each night in Toronto, which far and away led the team. He also had the second-most hits for the team and ate up more than 20 minutes of ice time each night.

What Holl Brings to the Red Wings

If you look at this signing through an objective lens, I think it was a risky move for Detroit. One of Holl’s biggest issues in Toronto was that he was often asked to be too much for the franchise, and he will likely be asked to take on more for the Red Wings given what they are paying him. Yes, he can take on 20 minutes of ice time each night, but he likely should have been closer to 15 minutes to be at his most consistent.

Related: 2023 NHL Free Agency Tracker

Right now, Holl will be tied for the second-highest paid defensemen in Detroit for the 2023-24 season, which is a sign that they are still a rebuilding team but also that they will be expecting their new player to step into a top-four role immediately. This might put him right back into a place that will highlight to worst aspects of his game plan while overshadowing the best parts.

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However, there is a chance that Holl is able to take that next step in his career with the Red Wings, and he still has a lot left to give to the league. If he can find that next level, he could become a fan favorite in Detroit, as he plays the kind of game that can help you win tough games. This means that there is a wide range of failure given the term and price of this contract.

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