Rather than acquire a second-tier veteran center to get through their current crisis, the Toronto Maple Leafs landed prospect Peter Holland from the Anaheim Ducks.
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle immediately put Holland between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel on his top line. JVR scored twice Saturday as Toronto dispatched the hapless Buffalo Sabres 4-2.
Holland, the 15th overall pick of the 2009 draft, hasn’t been able to stick with the Ducks the past two seasons. He has scored 45 goals in 119 AHL games and five goals in 30 NHL games.
This is his golden opportunity to advance his career. With centers Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland injured and wingers Nikolai Kulemin and David Clarkson struggling, the Maple Leafs became desperate for offense.
Carlyle was forced to play van Riemsdyk a center for four games. He didn’t score a point there. The Maple Leafs scored just four goals during that span, one by Kessel.
“I’m probably a little more comfortable playing (the wing), maybe allows me to do some different things as far as being in front of the net a little more often,” van Riemsdyk told reporters after the game. “That’s a big part of my game, obviously.”