Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the Rangers are expected to try to trade the defenceman in order to add another centre to their roster.
With Mika Zibanejad signing a five-year, $26.75 million contract on Tuesday, the Rangers are left with under $500,000 in projected cap space for the start of the season, and trading Holden would free $1.65 million. Holden will be a UFA next season.
Including off-season KHL addition Alexei Bereglazov, the Rangers have eight defencemen on their roster for next season and only three true centres; Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and David Desharnais. J.T. Miller also saw time at both centre and right wing last season.
Holden, 30, was traded to the Rangers from the Colorado Avalanche last summer for a fourth-round pick. He scored a career-high 11 goals and 34 points in 80 games, while ranking second on the team in average time on ice (20:37). He added two goals and two assists in 11 playoff games.
Some have linked the Toronto Maple Leafs to the New York Rangers defenceman in a trade for centre Tyler Bozak. However, the Rangers are already slated to be up against the cap this season, there is “zero indication” to suggest the Rangers are looking to acquire the centre. So don’t hold your breath Leaf fans.
The only way the Rangers could hit Bozak’s $4.2 million cap hit, even after shedding Holden’s $1.65 million, would be by buying out Marc Staal‘s contract.
Buying out Staal would leave the Rangers with a $2.13 million cap hit in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $3.1 million cap hit in 2019-20, a $3.93 million cap hit in 2020-21 and then a $1.43 million hit in the remaining four seasons from 2021-2025. Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, David Desharnais and Lias Andersson will open the season as the team’s top-four centres.
The Rangers bought out defenceman Dan Girardi last month, ahead of the Vegas expansion draft, leaving them with $2.6 million in dead cap this season and $3.6 million in each of the following two years (and $1.1 million in each of the following three).
Bozak, 31, is entering the final season of a five-year deal signed with the Maple Leafs in 2013. He scored 18 goals and added 37 points in 78 games last season, and posted two goals and four points in six playoff games.