TORONTO– Korbinian Holzer doesn’t want to assume his new contract guarantees him a spot with the Toronto Maple Leafs, even if that is the expectation that comes with a one-way deal.
“It’s a good sign that I have a one-way (contract) but you can’t take it for granted,” said Holzer. “I have to work hard every day, have a good training camp and show them that I want it.”
After developing for two seasons with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, on a two-way contract designed for players who aren’t assured an NHL spot, the club re-signed Holzer in July for one year, one-way, at $575 000. A significant increase from the $62 500 he made previously.
The 6’3 220-pounder had a solid season with the Marlies and emerged as the team’s top defenceman after Matt Lashoff got injured nine games in.
His consistent play as a shut-down defenceman helped the Marlies to a league-best goals against average and he was a key piece in Toronto’s Calder Cup finals’ run.
GM Brian Burke said he believed the 24-year-old was ready for the NHL last season and proved it at the trade deadline when he shipped out Keith Aulie, who was, at the time, the Leafs top blue-line prospect.
Despite what Holzer displayed in the past year, along with management’s praising, he didn’t think he would earn the deal he did.
“We were trying to get a one-way but I never really thought it would happen” said Holzer. “When the offer came I was very happy because it shows the faith that (management) have. Now I want to prove them right and show them that it’s worth what they did.”
With the Marlies playing into mid-June last season, Holzer took little time off before getting back to work. He spent a week on vacation in Italy before going home to Germany to start his off season routine. He trained for eight weeks in his native Munich, but is now back in Toronto skating with other members of the organization.
“I came here early so that I could work out and put myself in the best spot possible,” he said. “You can always work on every part of you game but skating is what I’m looking to improve.”
If Holzer moves on from the AHL, the Marlies are prepared to fill his spot with the signings of Mike Kostka, Dylan Yeo and most recently Paul Ranger. Plus, they still have Mark Fraser, Simon Gysbers and prospect Jesse Blacker.
“The organization has done a great job adding guys to this organization,” said Holzer. “Guys who know how to win, like Kostka. They’ve added key pieces to the team and the young guys can benefit from their experience.”
Of course, everything for Holzer depends on if the NHL decides to lockout its players on September 15th.
If that happens, the 2006 draft pick doesn’t know yet what he will do and may have to wait a little bit longer to prove to management he’s worth the new one-way deal.
“It all depends on a short lockout or whole season,” he said. “I haven’t talked to anyone yet. I’ll talk to my agent and see what the Leafs want and go from there.”