New Jersey Devils fans need to be patient with Alexander Holtz’s development as he struggles early on in the 2022-23 NHL regular season.
When the New Jersey Devils drafted Swedish right winger Alexander Holtz No. 7 overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, fans expected to finally have the pure goal-scorer the team’s been missing since Ilya Kovalchuk. However, now in his second crack at the NHL lineup, the forward continues to demonstrate struggles in keeping pace with the speed of the game at the highest level.
While this concerns everyone who follows the Devs, considering that their power play is banking on having a guy who can post up on the weak side with a bomb of a shot, there’s one key reason why we should all remain optimistic about the young gun’s future, and it’s his age.
In today’s NHL, we’re desensitized by the fact that teams are starting their 1st-Round draft picks when they’re 18 and 19 years old. This is ridiculously unreasonable. Guys like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are able to take the league by storm at this age because they’re generational talents.
For 99.99% of rookies in the NHL, it takes years to develop the maturity to play on the world’s biggest stage. In fact, many players aren’t ready to compete in the league until they’re 23-24 years old. The reason being is that it’s at this age when the player’s mind and body are at their peak performance.
One player with whom we can compare Alexander Holtz regarding similar development is Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. We all know Draisaitl as the certified superstar who is listed on the stat sheet nearly every night. However, he wasn’t always the freak of nature that he is now.
Similar to Holtz, Draisaitl has an absolute cannon of a shot, but he’s not well-known for his skating. They both experienced the struggle of maintaining the blistering speed of today’s game. However, that hasn’t stopped Draisaitl from registering three 100+ point seasons, all of which he scored 40+ goals respectively.
Alexander Holtz has the intangibles and the skill set to be a top-line goal scorer in the NHL. We all need to recognize that he’s just 20 years old and that not every player will develop at the same rate. Holtz is taking his time in finding his groove and at the rate of the New Jersey Devils’ rebuild, there is zero rush for him to find it at the moment.
Until he plays his first 100 games, there can be no label on whether or not Holtz is the guy everyone expects him to be. Let him do his thing and we’ll check back in when we’re further down the road. There are far more glaring issues with ‘Jersey than the status of Alexander Holtz.