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Leafs sign Marlies defender Justin Holl to NHL deal

From the ECHL to a big-league contract in two years, way to go Holl!

Holl in the playoffs
Holl in the playoffs
Christian Bonin |

The Leafs announced on July 2 that they had signed free agent Justin Holl to an NHL contract.

Holl played for the Marlies last year in 60 games where he had 21 points including five goals. He spent most of his time backing up the high scoring lines, and when injuries and callups thinned the defence, he stepped up to fill a greater role than was originally expected of him.

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, he played four years at the University of Minnesota--he's a Minnesota boy--and then was signed to an AHL deal by the Rockford IceHogs in 2014.

He played most of that year in Indianapolis for the Indy Fuel in the ECHL, and rode the callup elevator up and down several times, getting only 2 AHL games.

His direction on the Marlies was up not down, and he was rewarded with this one-year deal. The NHL salary is reported by General Fanager to be $742,000 with a games played performance bonus of $182,500. There is also a $92,500 signing bonus and an AHL salary of the typical $70,000.

Holl is the only signing for the Marlies since the off season began. The Leafs, busy with sorting out the lower end of their NHL depth chart and perhaps stymied by the Jared Cowen affair, have made no AHL moves even though many teams have taken the early days of free agency as an opportunity to sign new AHL players.

The Solar Bears have also signed a defender: Eric Baier.

The Leafs have some interesting older players coming to their development camp in a few days, and there may be more minor league signings soon!