Toronto Maple Leafs fans know they have a lot to look forward to next season thanks to the brilliance of Cliff Fletcher and the rest of MLSE. Bryan McCabe’s return to relevance. The Finger-banging of opposing forwards that dare to enter Vesa Toskala’s airspace. The inevitable emergence of Curtis Joseph as a top five goalie in the Eastern Conference. All of these future events are obvious to even the most casual Leafs fan, but I don’t think the citizens of Leafs Nation know about the excellence that will be coming from one of their club’s best new additions: Ryan Hollweg.
Before being sent to the Leafs in exchange for a fifth round draft pick, Hollweg skated for the New York Rangers, the team that originally drafted him in the eighth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted from the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers after four seasons (he sat out most of another season with a concussion). Those four seasons resulted in a respectable 94 goals and 233 points, not to mention a hard-working 476 penalty minutes. As those numbers would lead you to believe, Hollweg is a somewhat scrappy player.
In New York he spent most of his time on a prestigious line with Colton Orr and the great Bates Battaglia, scoring very sparingly. What he lacks in goals scored, however, Hollweg makes up for in grit. Sean Avery hogged the spotlight in New York with his well-deserved superpest reputation, so Hollweg’s antics went mostly unnoticed, but not by Chris Simon. Simon’s infamous slash to the face of some unlucky guy was actually a slash to the face of Ryan Hollweg. If enraging a guy to the point of him slashing you in the face isn’t enough for entrance into the superpest club I don’t know what is.
His gritty and somewhat illegal play is also noticed a lot by NHL officials. Hollweg came third on the Rangers in penalty minutes in the 2007-08 season, behind Colton Orr and Sean Avery. In the 2006-07 season he managed to beat out Orr and Avery for the number one spot, mostly thanks to injuries to both of them. Fast fact: Jammy Jagr was third in penalty minutes on the Rangers that season.
Mr. Hollweg spends a lot of time in the box because of his pest-like play, but knows how to pick his spots – this past playoff season he only managed one minor penalty in eight games. It was probably a good call for him to stay out of the sin bin since he wasn’t really helping his team on the scoreboard. In eight games played he picked up a -2 (second last on the team) and mustered only five shots on goal. Sidney Crosby he’s not.
Scoring, however, is not the reason why Ryan Hollweg is moving to Toronto. Let’s face it, the Leafs don’t need yet another goal scorer – they need grit from a good American kid, and that’s exactly what Hollweg will provide. Although he didn’t find the twine much in New York and probably won’t in Toronto either, his energy and hard-nosed play will make the Leafs a much more entertaining play.
Oh yeah, and he has a sweet flavor saver and sort of looks like my boy Adam Morrison. And don’t forget his sweet dance moves either (below). You’re telling me this guy’s not going to lead the Leafs to the playoffs?!
Inside the Numbers
4 seasons of over 100 PIMs in the WHL
2 time WHL player of the week
239 PIMs in one season in the AHL
311 career PIMs in three NHL seasons
5 career NHL goals
This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson.