As you are likely aware, the Vegas Golden Knights traded forward Brendan Leispic to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Philip Holm. Leipsic, the expansion draft selection off of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was a player that many on Knights On Ice were excited about. A 23-year-old winger with upside, he failed to fully live up to expectations, putting up just 13 points in 44 games (only two of which were goals).
And while I could go into his shooting percentage (2.9) it had become clear that with the emergence of Ryan Carpenter (10 points in 15 games with Vegas), the early returns of Tomas Hyka (34 points in 35 AHL games) and the acquisition of Ryan Reaves (he’s... big?), something had to give.
We now know that what gave was Leipsic, but, what you may not know is who Philip Holm is.
Let’s break it down.
The 26-year-old Swede is, obviously, a product of the Swedish hockey system having played and developed in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly the Swedish Elite League) and Swe-1 league over the seven seasons before making the jump to North America this season.
Holm, an undrafted 6-foot-1 left-handed defender, signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Canucks in May and has performed fairly well in the American Hockey League so far, putting up 29 points in 42 games, including 11 goals and a negative-six rating.
He played just one game in the NHL this season for the Canucks, ironically coming against the Vegas Golden Knights just three days ago. He was held off the score sheet and was a minus-two.
You can say he made a great impression.
He also played in the first ever Golden Knights pre-season game as a member of the Canucks. He played north of 25 minutes, scored a goal, added an assist, and was a negative-three.
Philip Holm is a defenseman who plays a well-rounded game. Owns excellent mobility and a good first pass. Can play a physical game at times, too.
- Erik K. Piri, EP (2017)
A potential third pairing guy, he’s said to be reliable defensively with good positioning. The consensus on Holm is that he is a strong skater who can move the puck, but is not overly offensive. What that likely means is that he has a great first pass and can skate out of trouble, but if you’re looking for him to create offense or add much to the score sheet, well, you’re looking at the wrong guy.
At 26 years old, he’s a bit old to expect much more in terms of physical development, however as we have seen in the past the transition from a European game to the North American game can take some time, so it might not be until next season that we truly see if Holm has anything the Golden Knights could use on the NHL roster.
He was reportedly one of the best defensemen in the SHL in his final season before making the jump so there might be more to his game than even we know.
As of now, however, he’s not likely to vault above any defenders already in the logjam on Vegas’ blue line and as such will be in Chicago for much of the rest of the season.
Why General Manager George McPhee thought Holm was worth a 23-year-old roster player, we’ll never know, but this is a guy who also believes Ryan Reaves is a good fit on a speedy transition team.
Holm seems like a solid, but unspectacular depth defenseman with some upside. He’s not defensive enough to be a shutdown guy, not offensive enough to be a top-four defenseman, he’s just kind of... there. Now, as mentioned, he could still grow. Another year in North America could help.
This all said, right now, and considering the Canucks are in a rebuild, I wonder if they couldn’t have gotten this guy for a draft pick if they wanted him so bad. Was a roster player with Leipsic’s upside really necessary?