Preseason Takeaways: 3. Alexander Holtz is making the most of his opportunity. Nolan Foote and Graeme Clarke, not so much
One of the big questions Devils fans have had the past few seasons is: will 2020 seventh-overall draft pick Alexander Holtz blossom into the versatile winger he’s projected to become? Following a disappointing lack of growth last year, Holtz seems more prepared than ever before to answer that question. He’s been noticeably faster and smoother during the preseason, turning heads with his increased confidence.
Holtz has seen top-six minutes during preseason action. He’s receiving mentorship from his current linemates Nico Hischier and Timo Meier. It’s important that he’s able to keep up with the top forwards, something he couldn’t handle last year. Holtz is going to crack the roster. If he can break out, he’ll contribute to an already-loaded offense.
Two other young players who hoped to make an impact this preseason, Nolan Foote and Graeme Clarke, haven’t made the most of their opportunity. Neither made significant contributions when given minutes. Clarke missed offensive opportunities and made defensive mistakes. Foote took some shots and had some high-danger chances against Igor Shesterkin but came up with nothing to show for it. For two guys who needed to impress, they each stayed under the radar.
Clarke was already sent back to Utica. Foote is no longer waivers-exempt, which means the Devils could lose him to another team if he doesn’t make the NHL roster. If he does remain a Devil, he’ll have more opportunities. It’s a long season, and both of these players still have plenty of potential.