Matt Irwin has not been good during his tenure with the Nashville Predators. He had a promising first season in limited minutes, and then that promise fizzled and faded like dew in the sun. He’s been defensively poor, lacks offensive skill to make up for it, and is neither fast nor physical. He’s not good for a NHL player, which is to say that he’s still among the top thousand or two men in the world at playing ice hockey.
Somehow, incredibly, David Poile has managed to find an unquestionably worse defender than Irwin, and then allowed himself to be persuaded to exchange actual assets for that defender.
Korbinian Holzer has been waived several times, including this year, and cleared waivers, which means he was available for free. He has been one of the Anaheim Ducks’ worst players this season on paper—and the Ducks have had a lot of bad players—and might even be worse than that to the eye test, judging by the reactions to this trade from Ducks fans.
Holzer brings no offense, but that’s okay, because he makes up for it with—no, I stand corrected, he brings no defense either. He has some degree of baseline competence on the penalty kill, when he’s not taking penalties himself. He takes penalties more often than average, which is not great, because the Preds’ penalty kill is currently a tire fire. (He also can’t draw penalties, but I’d worry about that more if I had more confidence in the power play.)
I am struggling to find any nice things to say about Holzer’s play, and the only thing I’m coming up with is that, depending on your metric, he might be slightly better than Matt Irwin is defensively.
The problem is that offensively he’s substantially worse than Irwin by any metric, enough so that his net impact on game flow is still going to be worse for the Predators than icing Irwin would have been.
Holzer has four points, including one goal, for the Anaheim Ducks this season while playing an average of 16:14 a night over 46 games with them. He has a cap hit of $850K and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The draft pick is a sixth-rounder in 2022.
Player statistics from hockey-reference.com, evolving-hockey.com, and hockeyviz.com. Contract information from capfriendly.com.