The New Jersey Devils used their seventh-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to take Swedish winger Alexander Holtz. It was a pick that just about everyone was behind. Devils fans, draft analysts, and traditional hockey men all thought it was a pick that made perfect sense for the Devils. Many had Marco Rossi as a higher-ranked prospect, but Holtz fit what the Devils needed so much better.
Devils fans salivated over what Holtz could become. It was unfortunate this wasn’t a normal year because Holtz likely would have had an invitation to Devils training camp along with prospect camps and tournaments. We lost out on a lot of Holtz content last season, and Holtz lost out on a ton of development. It showed with his play on the ice.
Holtz never really looked great during the year. Well, there was a short time when he built great chemistry with 2021 draft-eligible William Eklund. However, it didn’t last long enough on Djurgardens IF. He was played like a young player in the SHL. He got some minutes every night, but he never got enough minutes to get into a rhythm.
When he came to the AHL for the final 10 games of the season, he looked really good, but he wasn’t able to finish. That’s an issue since finishing is his main source of success. Holtz is a scorer, and he was only able to score eight goals in 50 games between the SHL and AHL. He needs to be better than that.
Holtz also failed to impress at World Juniors. He was supposed to be a star for Sweden, but he ended up with more penalty minutes than he had points as Sweden didn’t last too long in the tournament.
Alexander Holtz could still be a great player for the New Jersey Devils.
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However, like we keep saying, last year was an awful year for everyone. It’s hard to really judge players for how they played, and Holtz especially had a strange year. Again, he looked pretty good during his time in the AHL, but it wasn’t great.
Do you know who was great? Dawson Mercer. The Devils other 1st-round pick had 36 points in 23 games for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Those are the numbers teams want from a 1st-round pick in their draft+1 year. That success actually has some denying the talent of Holtz. Mercer still has a year to grow in the minors while Holtz already has a head start.
Mercer is great, but Holtz is still the better prospect. The Swedish winger could end this season as the top-line winger and nobody should be that surprised. If Mercer makes the team at some point, it would actually be a surprise to some, and his ceiling feels like third-line center.
Holtz showed for years exactly what he could do. He had a rough season, but his talent will prevail. He will get a long look at training camp, and if he worked on his flaws in the offseason, then he could very well make this team right out of camp.