4 years after drafting defenceman Mac Hollowell as a 19-year-old in 2018, the Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping the time is correct for the long-developing defenceman to make the leap into the NHL.
Hollowell’s alternative comes at a time when the Maple Leafs’ battered blue line desperately wants prospects and depth gamers to step up within the absence of a number of the unit’s greatest stars.
Accompanying Tuesday’s information of Morgan Rielly being placed on long-term injured reserve, sidelining him not less than 10 video games with a knee harm, was that of Hollowell’s call-up and long-awaited NHL debut. With Jake Muzzin (backbone) out indefinitely on LTIR and T.J. Brodie on IR with an indirect harm, the Maple Leafs are getting actually skinny on the blue line as they method the all-important quarter-mark of the season.
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Hollowell will go well with up Wednesday in New Jersey, the primary leg of a four-stop U.S. highway journey for the Maple Leafs that features a back-to-back Friday and Saturday. Victor Mete was additionally known as up from the Marlies and can journey with the staff.
Getting the nod, Hollowell advised reporters on Tuesday, “means every part” to the tenured Marlie, who’s been forwards and backwards a lot between the large membership and its AHL affiliate however by no means dressed.
“I’ve been ready for this second since I used to be a little bit child,” Hollowell, who hails from Niagara Falls, Ont., advised reporters Tuesday after head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed his place within the lineup. “Simply wish to make my mark with staff, assist them win video games.”
He’s a cellular right-shot with offensive upside
Hollowell, a right-shot, may fill plenty of wants for the banged-up blue line contemplating his mobility, offensive upside, and place. He performs a mode of sport much like that of former Greyhounds and Marlies teammate Rasmus Sandin, who now in his second full season with the Maple Leafs has a possibility to step into a bigger position – notably on the power-play unit, in Rielly’s place.
Hollowell, too, has the potential to make an affect on particular groups, more than likely as a second-unit level man because of his means to distribute the puck successfully. At five-foot-nine, Hollowell doesn’t deliver a bodily presence however, like Sandin, is a robust two-way participant who’s at his greatest when he’s transferring his toes and taking part in a transitional sport. Whereas he doesn’t boast the velocity to simply get better if caught chasing the play, his power as a puck-mover may see him match proper in on the Maple Leafs’ cellular blue line.
Taking part in on his robust proper facet, his skillset is well-suited to taking part in alongside a extra bodily presence like Jordie Benn or Mark Giordano.
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Undrafted in 2017, he’s “all the time taken the lengthy route”
Hollowell went undrafted in his first 12 months of eligibility in 2017 however earned an invite to the Maple Leafs’ growth camp – a camp that took an unlucky flip when he suffered a damaged leg.
One 12 months later, after therapeutic up and placing up a extremely robust season with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds that noticed him double his 2016-17 manufacturing and assist propel the Greyhounds to the OHL remaining, he acquired his draft second. The Maple Leafs chosen the then-19-year-old d-man within the fourth spherical, 118th general, in 2018.
After returning to Sault Ste. Marie for his overage season – and once more placing up career-highs throughout the board to the tune of 24 objectives and 77 factors in 64 video games – the Maple Leafs signed him to a three-year entry-level deal in March 2019 and wasted no time getting him into the combo with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
After first leaping into the playoffs with the Marlies in 2019 and impressing the membership early, Hollowell advised Sportsnet’s Luke Fox he didn’t get discouraged by what some would view as setbacks.
“Not likely, as a result of I’ve all the time taken the lengthy route,” he stated on the time. “The OHL draft, my minor hockey days, it’s all the time been a piece in progress.”
Save for a 19-game stint with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers the next season, he’s been a mainstay on the Marlies’ blue line since.
Hollowell signed a one-year extension with the Maple Leafs final February. His two-way deal is price $750,000 on the NHL degree.
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Dubas and Keefe know him properly
Earlier than Dubas drafted Hollowell, and even earlier than he invited him to Toronto’s growth camp a 12 months earlier, the Maple Leafs GM was well-versed in who Hollowell was as a participant and an individual because of their time in Sault Ste. Marie. It was Dubas, in any case, who drafted Hollowell within the twelfth spherical of the OHL draft in 2014 throughout his remaining 12 months as Greyhounds GM. Sheldon Keefe was bench boss there on the time.
Keefe acquired a better take a look at Hollowell with the Marlies, the place he coached the rearguard for elements of two seasons earlier than he was named head coach of the Maple Leafs.
The checklist of former Greyhounds to have suited up for the Maple Leafs below Dubas’ tenure is lengthy – Jake Muzzin, Rasmus Sandin, Michael Bunting, Matt Murray amongst them – and Hollowell now provides his title.
Joe Thornton is a giant fan
Within the late fall of 2020, with the pandemic placing hockey seasons on maintain in North America, Hollowell flew to Finland – his first time heading abroad to play professional hockey – to begin the season on mortgage with TUTO Hockey of the Finnish tier-two league. There, he registered six factors in six video games earlier than returning to North America in December, the place he landed in a fairly distinctive scenario: sharing a home with fellow quarantining Maple Leafs Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Rasmus Sandin, and Joe Thornton over the vacations forward of Leafs camp opening up for the shortened 2021 season.
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Over the few months that adopted, Hollowell spent a number of stints on the Maple Leafs’ taxi squad, getting an up-close take a look at the each day tempo and routines of life within the NHL. In fact, it additionally gave him a possibility to proceed bonding with new BFF Joe Thornton – a well-documented friendship between prospect and veteran:
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“Once I was up there (with the Leafs), he was the man to take me to the again of the aircraft and let me hang around with the boys,” Hollowell said of Thornton. “That was enormous. He simply likes to maintain issues free and calm. I are likely to overthink issues generally so he retains me free and feeling good. That was good to have.”
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