Nick Holden

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - SPORTS -

Born: May 15, 1987 Birth­place: St. Al­bert, Al­berta Shoots: Left

Draft: Un­drafted

Sea­son stats: 3 goals, 10 as­sists, plus-1 rat­ing, 8 penalty min­utes at the end of last year — and a lot of guys said it — we re­ally want to con­tinue to have good peo­ple,” de­fense­man Nate Sch­midt said.

That’s where Nick Holden comes in.

The vet­eran de­fense­man

has pro­vided a steady, if un­spec­tac­u­lar, pres­ence on the blue line af­ter sign­ing in July.

But it’s Holden’s fun-lov­ing and out­go­ing per­son­al­ity that en­deared him to his new team­mates.

“That’s some­body that we needed in the off­sea­son,” de­fense­man Shea Theodore said. “The coach­ing staff and Ge­orge did a good job, and I think he just fits in re­ally well with this group. To get some­body that fits right into the room, I think that trans­lates on the ice.”

Added Jon Mer­rill: “He’s one of those guys you wouldn’t mind sit­ting next to on a de­layed flight at the bar and hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with. He’s an awe­some guy.”

Holden nearly quit hockey as a teenager grow­ing up in St. Al­bert, Al­berta, and fol­lowed an un­con­ven­tional path to the NHL.

He went un­drafted and spent five sea­sons in the Amer­i­can Hockey League be­fore he caught on with Colorado in 2013 at age 26.

“For me, my faith’s been big,” Holden said. “That’s helped me to con­tinue to pur­sue this, where at cer­tain points it prob­a­bly would have been eas­ier to quit and head back home and get a job.”

Holden spent three sea­sons with the Avalanche un­til he was traded to the Rangers in 2016. He posted a ca­reer-high 11 goals and 34 points in his first sea­son in New York, but strug­gled last sea­son and was sent to Bos­ton at the trade dead­line.

The Knights signed the un­re­stricted free agent to a two-year, $4.4 mil­lion deal.

“When you don’t no­tice him, those are his best games,” coach Ger­ard Gal­lant said. “I re­ally like a lot of things that he does for us. He doesn’t stand out.

He’s not a flashy guy, and that’s ex­actly what we thought we were get­ting.”

Holden’s style of play makes him a light­ning rod for crit­i­cism since his mis­takes tend to stand out more.

He ad­mit­ted it took some time to ad­just to the Knights’ ag­gres­sive sys­tems, which re­quire de­fense­men to move the puck quickly.

“I think early on I wasn’t mak­ing the right reads some­times, maybe pinch­ing of­fen­sively giv­ing up some stuff, or in the (de­fen­sive) zone mak­ing the wrong read on my player where I’m sup­posed to be,” Holden said. “I feel just the con­sis­tency in my game has been bet­ter.”

Holden has three goals and 13 points to go with a plus-1 rat­ing and is one of four play­ers to play in all 48 games for the Knights, join­ing Wil­liam Karls­son, Jonathan Marches­sault and Bray­den Mcnabb.

Af­ter skat­ing at right and left de­fense with mul­ti­ple part­ners in the first 20 games, Holden started to de­velop chem­istry with Colin Miller un­til the lat­ter was hurt Dec. 17 at Colum­bus.

Holden played nine of the past 10 games on the right side with Mer­rill, and they’ve com­bined for a plus-8 rat­ing.

“He’s been play­ing such a solid role,” Sch­midt said of Holden. “Him and Jonny have been re­ally good the last how­ever many games since Colin has gone out. I like their game right now.”

Con­tact David Schoen at [email protected]­viewjour­nal.com or 702-387-5203. Fol­low @Davids­choenlvrj on Twit­ter.

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