Wheeler: Alexander Holtz “Going to be” 20-Goal Player

Alexander Holtz #10 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Alexander Holtz #10 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Following the additions of Timo Meier and Tyler Toffoli, it seems that opportunities for Alexander Holtz to make the New Jersey Devils are running out. But, the Swedish sharpshooter still has plenty of believers. 

Three years on, the 2020 NHL Draft serves as one of the stranger drafts in recent memory. The draft took place not too long after the global onset of COVID-19, which would end up derailing the development of prospects all over the globe. Many of the top prospects from the 2020 Draft are still struggling to produce, and in some cases struggling to even make the NHL. Alexander Holtz is among the latter.

Alexander Holtz was drafted seventh overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2020 NHL Draft, and spent one year with Swedish team Djurgårdens IF before heading over to North America. Holtz played 10 games with the Binghamton Devils in 2020-21 after leaving Djurgårdens, and seemed to have an outside chance of making the Devils as a regular in 2021-22.

Instead, Lindy Ruff gave Holtz a run of six games in early November of 2021, and Holtz would then play once in January and twice in April. That was all. However, in the time in between, Alexander Holtz went ahead and stamped his name on the AHL with the Utica Comets.

Regarded by EliteProspects as having the ‘Best Shot’ in the 2020 NHL Draft, Alexander Holtz scored 26 goals and 51 points in 52 games with the Comets in 2021-22. Although Holtz struggled to find his game in the NHL, his near point-per-game production was extremely encouraging for a player who was just 19 years old on opening night that season.

Alexander Holtz would go on to make the Devils’ opening night roster this past season, and scored his first National Hockey League goal in a 5-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers in the season-opener. Holtz played 14:36 that night, but would instead play 10 or more minutes in just eight of his next 18 games. His 10:16 average ice time this past season was astonishingly two whole minutes lower than the 12:16 he averaged the year prior.

It’s also worth noting that two of Holtz’ three goals in the NHL have come on the power play. The Devils have rolled out both Nathan Bastian and Dawson Mercer on their power play units with varying degrees of success, and have only done so due to their lack of right-handed shooters. Holtz, at a minimum, will carve out a niche there in 2023.

The Athletic staff writer Scott Wheeler, who covers the NHL draft and its prospects annually, still strongly believes that Alexander Holtz will be a prolific goal-scorer.

Wheeler published his 2020 Re-Draft article for The Athletic Tuesday morning and had Alexander Holtz falling from his original spot with the Devils at number seven, all the way down to the Chicago Blackhawks at 17.

"“He’s going to be a 20-goal guy as a regular in a top nine no problem,” Wheeler said. “The question is whether he can be a 30-goal guy in a top six. . . but I still think he might get there in the prime of his career”."

If Alexander Holtz does get the chance to become a regular in the New Jersey Devils’ top nine, his first crack at doing so will almost assuredly come alongside Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula. It’s unclear who the Devils’ third-line right wing will be on opening night, but if it is Holtz, he will be the only member of the Devils’ top nine without a 20-goal NHL season under his belt.

Envisioning a 20-goal or better season for Alexander Holtz is easy. The Devils’ power play was about average at best, and lacked a true triggerman, even after the acquisition of Timo Meier. Erik Haula, Ondrej Palat, and Tomas Tatar averaged north of 15 minutes of ice time this past season, and Tatar is apparently out of the picture. 15 to 17 minutes of ice time on a nightly basis should be enough to get Holtz going.

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Alexander Holtz isn’t a sunken-cost fallacy – the pressure is on him from the organization to succeed, or else – but he will have the first, second, and third opportunities to make the New Jersey Devils in a limited role on the third line. If he fails? The organization will wash its hands and emphasize the next prospects in line for an opportunity.

Alexander Holtz, the stage is yours.