Nick Holden willingly admits that he was knocked for a bit of a loop when he found out Saturday that he had been traded by the Colorado Avalanche. However he recovered pretty quickly when he was informed he was now a New York Ranger.
“As soon as it was the Rangers saying we want you here, I was thrilled,” Holden told BlueshirtsUnited.com over the phone earlier this week. “The hockey, the city embracing the team, the first-class organization they are…I am excited, I am really excited.”
Talk to Holden for even a short amount of time and you learn quickly that he is a very upbeat, positive person, so his excitement about coming to New York is clearly genuine. Thoughtful and well-spoken, he is able to easily identify what it is about being a New York Ranger that has his blood pumping even if we are more than two months away from the start of training camp.
“Madison Square Garden is such a historic building, and the Rangers organization, being an Original Six, has such a rich history,” offered Holden. “That’s kind of what I am most excited about, to be involved in something of that size. To be able to come to New York on a bigger stage is going to be awesome.”
Added Holden, “And as a player, to be in an environment where you are expected to win, you want to be in a culture like that. Winning is expected here. You don’t want to be somewhere where it’s OK to just be OK. You want to be your best all the time. That’s how I approach everything I do, whether it’s in practice or in a game.”
“I’m excited for the adventure. I’m excited to help the Rangers win.”
A solid two-way defenseman, Holden was acquired by New York in exchange for a 2017 fourth round draft pick. He is coming off a 22-point season in which he averaged a career-high 21:53 worth of ice time while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his NHL career. Holden also ranked second on the Avalanche, and 19th among all NHL players, with 217 hits.
“I take pride in my defense, and a big part of that is shutting down opposing forwards, and any time you can make things hard for them and put some doubt in their head by being physical, then that’s what I try and do,” explained the 29 year-old Holden. “That’s something definitely I’ll be bringing to New York.”
With veteran defensemen Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle not returning this upcoming season, the Rangers have a pair of holes to fill on the defense corps. Yandle led the team’s defensemen in scoring a year ago while Boyle was counted on to generate offense, too; but Holden should be able to help out in this area, as well.
In 2013-14 Holden scored ten goals for the Avalanche, to go along with a career-best 25 points, while appearing in only 54 games with Colorado. Last year he notched a career-high 16 assists.
“I think of myself as a utility player, defensive first, but I like taking advantage of opportunities in the offensive zone, too,” explained Holden. “If I need to play power play, I can do that. If they need me to kill penalties, I take a lot of pride in that, as well. I’m a hard-working guy who can help out at both ends, I think.”
Holden admits he doesn’t know too many specifics about the Rangers since he has spent the past three years playing in the Western Conference; and he doesn’t really know anyone on the team outside of Rick Nash and Derick Brassard who he met while coming up through the Columbus Blue Jackets organization after being signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2007.
In an interesting side note, when Holden made his NHL debut and appeared in five games with Columbus in 2010-11, the head coach of the Blue Jackets was none other than Scott Arniel, the Rangers current associate coach.
“I’m not worried about not knowing too many people at the Rangers because I really like to get to know new people and in hockey it’s pretty easy to get to know others quickly,” said Holden. “It’ll be nice to come in, new team and new faces, with a ton of excitement for me and my family. I can’t wait.”