New Jersey Devils: Can Alex Holtz, Dawson Mercer, and Nolan Foote All Make Roster?

Dawson Mercer #20 of Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Dawson Mercer #20 of Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

New Jersey Devils fans are very, very excited about the future after watching the team take on the Boston Bruins in the Prospect’s Challenge. It’s not because Nico Daws made some nice moves in net or because Graeme Clarke shined his impressive shot. The number-one reason fans are excited is because of the line of Nolan Foote, Alexander Holtz, and Dawson Mercer.

They combined for seven points in the 4-3 win against the Bruins. They were clearly the most dominant line in the game on both offense and defense. They were playing as if they were men amongst boys.

Alex Holtz is the player with the highest ceiling in the group. The Devils took him with the seventh-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and he has a lethal shot. We talked about his chances after his first game against Buffalo, but securing a few points was important to finish the Prospect’s Challenge. Just look at the snipe he took to rocket one into the top of the net. He even knocked the water bottle off!

That shot is lethal. It’s NHL caliber right now, and with the right development, it will only get better. He could very well make the roster. Honestly, would anyone be upset if the Devils just took this line and made it the fourth line in the NHL?

The Devils are looking for two wingers and a center to win jobs in training camp. Theoretically, it would be a winger on the top six, and center on the third line, and another winger on the third or fourth line, but wouldn’t it make sense to keep a trio together if they already have chemistry?

The Devils would have to do a few things to make it work. Right now, Hughes, Hischier, Sharangovich, Zacha, Bratt, Tatar, McLeod, and Wood are guaranteed roster spots. Janne Kuokkanen is just about guaranteed as well. The other player that’s close to guaranteed is Andreas Johnsson. While he’s guaranteed a roster spot, he’s not guaranteed a spot in the starting lineup after he struggled in his first year in New Jersey.

It would take a decision to start Johnsson on the bench to allow Mercer, Holtz, and Foote to start the season in the starting lineup. It’s actually possible. Lindy Ruff has shown in the past that he doesn’t do everything by the book. He won’t start Johnsson just because he is making a lot of money. This could open the door for an all-rookie line next season.

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This would also basically take Jesper Boqvist out of the equation. The Devils would definitely keep Johnsson on the roster, and they will keep Christian Jaros as an extra defenseman. That leaves one spot in the owner’s box, and to start the season that might be Scott Wedgewood’s as the Devils make sure Mackenzie Blackwood is good to go. Boqvist is still waivers exempt, so he can go freely to the AHL for now.

This is a great idea, but it’s hard to believe it would actually happen. The Devils roster spots are filling up, and they might not even be done adding to the team. It all depends on the goals of the season. If the Devils want to keep developing a great future while also winning, the rookie line might make the roster. If the goal is to stay the course, it might make the most sense to have them build confidence in the AHL.