The 2013-14 season was Nick Holden’s first full NHL campaign, and he took advantage of it.
After appearing in seven games over two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the 27-year-old defenseman found a home on the Avalanche's blue line as he played in a career-high 54 games last season.
Holden was a healthy scratch for the first few games of the year before making his Avalanche debut as a forward against Dallas on Nov. 1. He became a mainstay in the lineup from that point on.
"He's been very impressive," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said during the season. "I mean, training camp came, we signed him as a call-up, and he came to the camp, played so well. I said, 'Hey, listen, you're going to start with us,' and it's been like this. He's been very patient at the beginning of the year, didn't play much.”
Holden excelled as the season went on, and he was given more responsibility and ice time. He finished fourth among Avalanche defenders with 25 points and 15 assists. His 10 goals and plus-12 rating were second among Colorado blue liners, and he posted career highs in every statistical category. And maybe more importantly, he was able to capitalize on the chance to create a place for himself in the NHL.
"It's a dream of mine to play in the NHL," Holden said before his season debut with the Avalanche.
"It’s a great honor to play in the NHL. I know I would get my opportunity sooner or later, and Patrick kept telling me that. I kept working hard and doing whatever I could in practice to help the team win."
After helping the Avs wrap up the Central-Division title during the regular season, Holden got his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He continued his stellar play from the regular season with four points (three goals and one assist) and a team-high 25 hits in the seven-game series against the Minnesota Wild.
His impressive showing this past season prompted the Avs to lock him down with a three-year contract extension on July 1, keeping him in Denver through the 2017-18 season.
“Nick was a big part of our defense last season,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. “He provided offense from our blue line and played with a lot of confidence as the season moved on. We are pleased that he will continue to be a part of our team.”