Alexander Holtz is turning 22 years old in the 2023-24 NHL season (January 23rd) and there’s a lot on the line regarding his future career with the New Jersey Devils this year as he’s not only vying for a roster spot in October, but his career in the NHL as well.
Despite his very young age, time is playing against Holtz as he’s looking to finally solidify his place in New Jersey’s lineup after bouncing between the Devils and the Utica Comets (their AHL affiliate) during the previous three seasons.
Now, entering year 2 of his 3-year entry-level rookie contract, the former No. 7 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft will have a season that either transcends his hockey career or leaves him in the history books labeled as a “bust” with a reasonable justification for the latter.
When New Jersey drafted the Swedish-born forward who now stands at a sound 6’0” – 195 lbs., they foresaw a major cornerstone piece of their offense for the future. He was a pure goal-scorer with 1st line potential that the Devils have been missing since the days of Ilya Kovalchuk.
The New Jersey Devils need more from Alexander Holtz going forward.
Despite having an absolute bomb of a one-time shot which, needless to say, works wonders on the power play, Alex Holtz has failed to live up to the expectations set before by general manager Tom Fitzgerald and the coaching staff when their top 10 draft choice was used to bring him in.
During his time shared playing for the New Jersey Devils and the Utica Comets, Holtz has been widely and understandably criticized by fans and coaches.
More often than not, he’s unrecognizable on the ice and is nothing more than a phantom due to his underwhelming skating and lack of tenacity, especially in the defensive zone.
Appearing sporadically in a total of 28 games played in Jersey over the last two seasons, he’s recorded just 3 goals and 3 assists while holding a cumulative +/- rating of -11, making him an utter liability when he’s on the ice.
With the Comets, Alex has played in 76 games over three seasons scoring 33 goals and 32 assists, continuing the trend though, of being a liability on defense with a -13 rating on a playoff team in the AHL.
In order for Alexander Holtz to make the opening-day roster for the 2023-24 NHL season, he not only needs to be sensational in training camp, but he also needs to be a menace in battle drills and scrimmages, particularly when it comes to fighting for a loose puck.
Anything short of sheer domination in training camp will be seen as a disappointment and a step taken back in development for the Stockholm native, as his window of opportunity to play on hockey’s biggest stage narrows with each passing day.
There’s good news for New Jersey Devils fans, as their beloved Newark-based franchise is regarded as a genuine playoff and borderline Stanley Cup contender in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference.
Moreover, the addition of Tyler Toffoli is bringing even more firepower to an already heavily loaded offense. If Holtz does not pan out, the team still has a phenomenal top-six under contract for the long haul with plenty of players who can take his place.
If Holtz does pan out though, turning his play around and finally showing why he was a No. 7 overall draft pick, the Devils will welcome with open arms another incredibly young skater who can make a significant impact on the scoreboard as a natural goal-scorer.
Making the roster this October comes down to what Alexander Holtz can do without the puck in training camp which will dictate whether we’ll see him play his first real season in the NHL this season or be sent “down” to Utica for another year of wishful thinking.
Training camp for the New Jersey Devils starts Wednesday, September 13th with the rookies taking the ice followed by the veterans a week later on September 20th.