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A New Option at Left Wing? Sizing Up Bud Holloway

One of the Kings' brightest prospects left for Sweden two years ago, and he has flourished. Now, a return might be on the horizon. Is he the answer to our left wing troubles? Is he coming at all?

Holloway, during the 2010 preseason. He never played a regular season game for LA.
Holloway, during the 2010 preseason. He never played a regular season game for LA.
Christian Petersen

A big topic of discussion on the blog in the last week or two has been the the Kings' organizational depth at left wing. Dustin Brown, of course, holds down the top position, but second-line LW Dustin Penner could be on his way out during free agency. The other options for top-6 time on the left wing are currently a cause for concern; Dwight King saw his production slip, Tyler Toffoli would need to put in a lot of work over the offseason to fill the left side, Kyle Clifford seems much better suited to the bottom six, and Tanner Pearson probably isn't ready. But one name from the past has come up as a possible solution: Bud Holloway.

We haven't seen Bud in a while. The Kings' third-round pick from 2006 left Los Angeles in the offseason of 2011; since then, he has thrived with Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League. Assistant GM Ron Hextall confirmed that the Kings are looking into the possibility of signing Holloway, whose rights are actually still owned by Los Angeles. Both John Hoven at Mayor's Manor and Jon Rosen at LA Kings Insider broke down the potential signing, with question marks suitably inserted. Nothing concrete has been announced, but it's now possible that the 25-year-old could fill the left side in Los Angeles next season.

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Holloway scored 20 goals and picked up 51 assists in 58 games in 2012-13, and his 71 points were far and away the most in the SEL and rank as the second-best all time single-season total. Robert has done equivalencies in the past with our prospects, to estimate how prolific they would be at the NHL level. In the comments of his last post on the subject, he pegged Holloway for about 0.63 points per game in the NHL based on his SEL performance to that point. (Behind the Net offers the guide for converting performance in the Swedish Elite League to the NHL. The SEL and the KHL are two of the toughest leagues outside of North America, and they offer a much better outlook than an AHL translation does.) The results are pretty encouraging for Bud, and taking into account his performance over the remainder of the season, 60 points over a full season is not unreasonable. Anyone else think we could use a potential 60-point scorer?

(Worth noting; Tyler Toffoli was expected to score 0.4 points/game in the NHL based on his prior performance, but he averaged 0.5 PPG during the regular season and playoffs. Small sample, but encouraging.)

If you prefer more tangible comparisons, we can take a look at the other two top scorers in the Swedish Elite League. The only other player above one point per game for a full season was Carl Söderberg; he was signed by the Boston Bruins during this year's stretch run, and had two assists in six games. He's currently hanging out in the press box for the Stanley Cup Finals. (He was almost inserted onto the fourth line after Gregory Campbell broke his leg, but the Bruins went with Kaspars Daugavins, who nearly scored the game-winning goal in Game 1.) The third-leading scorer was Joakim Lindström, who bounced around with three NHL teams in the mid-to-late 2000s. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored 20 points in 44 games with the Phoenix Coyotes.

One more comparison: Jakob Silfverberg scored 54 points in 49 games in the Swedish Elite League in 2011-2012. He came over to the Ottawa Senators, and in 48 games as a rookie, he notched 19 points. This is below what was projected by NHL Equivalency ratings, which pegged him for 30 points. Then again, he was a rookie getting about 16 minutes per game. If we used this as our reference point for Holloway, we'd expect somewhere around 45-50 points in an 82-game season; still not too shabby. Seems reasonable to estimate that if he was given healthy ice time, he would likely score fewer points than our top 5 forwards (Kopitar, Brown, Williams, Carter, Richards), but probably would outscore the rest of the forwards.

Some brief tidbits on Bud...

  • Holloway currently shares the record for game-winning goals in a single AHL playoffs, having scored six in 2010.
  • Holloway led Manchester in points in 2009-10 and 2010-11. In 2010-11, he beat out Slava Voynov, Dwight King, and Justin Azevedo by 12, 11, and 10 points, respectively.
  • He also holds the SEL record for points in a single postseason, with 23 in the 2011-12 playoffs.
  • His team swept Lulea HC to win this year's SEL championship.
  • He'd replace Dustin Penner in another way: he's got a sense of humor. Check out one of his blog posts from his days with the Monarchs, and watch him break down his teammate's mustaches during Movember 2010.

But before we pencil him into the lineup, recent reports indicate that there's still a long way to go. See this tweet from Tomas Ros of Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet; All the Kings Men pointed it out and offered this translation.

The latest is that the Kings and Holloway's agent Wallen left the negotiating table and the parties are far apart.

The buzz is that Holloway wants a one-way deal, which makes sense if he is (still) looking for a permanent spot. When you're one of the premier players in Sweden, you ain't coming back to America only to be sent back to the AHL. So exercise caution before formulating your roster predictions or creating Dwight King trade proposals.

Having said that, it'd be pretty useful to have Holloway in town. Do you think Bud is a viable option?