This Flashback Friday is one player that the majority of Crusader, and hockey fans in general, would have heard of.
Nick Holden was a Sherwood Park Crusaders for only one season, but what he has done with the rest of his career is truly remarkable.
Before his time with the Crusaders began, Holden was playing his hockey in his hometown of St. Albert for the Midget AAA Raiders, where he played alongside future Crusader Nik Yaremchuk and Ryan Stanton, a veteran of 120 NHL games. His final year in AAA saw him skate in 35 games whilst producing 22 points: the most by a defenseman. The effort he put in on the ice earned up to a call up to the AJHL to the Crusaders southern rivals the Camrose Kodiaks. Holden actually became an AJHL champ with the Kodiaks and went on to play in the RBC Cup with them.
Holden’s was recruited by the Sherwood Park Crusaders the following season, after catching the eyes of Head Coach Greg Parks and General Manager Dan Auchenberg. The St. Albert product was coming into a team that had struggled tremendously the year before winning only 14 games on the year. Much like he did in AAA, Holden gave the Crusaders some stellar performances during his short stint with the organization. Across 57 games the offensive defenseman produced seven goals along with 23 assists, the most by a Crusaders defenseman that season.
The following season, the Cru defenseman took the next step in his career and moved on to play for the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL. Similar to how he had performed in the past, Holden continued on his offensive tear, in his second season with the Bruins became the league's top goal scoring defenseman with 22. His second season also saw him be named the captain of the Bruins. Despite only playing for the Bruins for a couple of seasons, he currently sits ninth in the Bruins all time goal scoring list with 30.
After two seasons with the Bruins, to nobody's surprise, Holden turned pro after signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He ended up spending time in the AHL for quite a while with the Syracuse Crunch and the Springfield Falcons. Holden did, however, make his NHL debut for the Jackets in the 2010-11 season. After spending so much time in the minors, and only playing seven games, Holden moved onto for the Colorado Avalanche: that’s when his pro career took off.
The summer of 2013, the once Crusader signed a two-year deal to play for the Colorado Avalanche. His first season he hit career highs in games played (54) and points (25). Holden even became a top playoff performer for the Avs, playing in seven games along with scoring four points. Holden continued to build on his success with the Avs playing in 78 games the next season and then 82. All this work caught the eyes of one of the biggest teams in the NHL: the New York Rangers.
Over the summer of 2016, the New York Rangers traded for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden. The trade saw the Avs receive a fourth round pick in exchange for Nick Holden. He soon became a top four defenseman for the Rangers which was filed with veteran NHLers. In his first season with the Rangers, Holden fell two games shy of playing in all 82 games for the second straight season, however, he once again defeated his previous career point total with 34.
Nick Holden is still with the New York Rangers going into the 2017/18 season. The former Crusader still has one-year remaining on his deal until he hits the free agent market.
Holden is one the most successful Crusader of all time. We are extremely proud of what he has accomplished and are looking forward to seeing what else he can do in his career.
Good luck the rest of the way Nick!