Niclas Bergfors. Mattias Tedenby. Jacob Josefson. Adam Larsson. Alexander Holtz. Five different players. They all have one thing in common: New Jersey Devils first-round picks from Sweden. They also have another unfortunate thing in common: the organization failed them. Well, four out of five, the jury is still out on the fifth. However, with how things are going right now, Holtz will be just like the others.
The Devils have a problem developing Swedish first-round prospects. For some reason, they just cannot make them everyday NHL players. Devils fans are all too familiar with how bad the organization can be when it comes to young Swedish prospects. Whether they were not played enough, brought in too soon, or simply not trusted by the coaching staff, they just never panned out how they should have. This streak must stop with Alexander Holtz.
Starting with Niclas Bergfors, he was selected with the 23rd overall selection in the 2005 draft. He was immediately signed by then-general manager Lou Lamoriello and made the jump to North America. However, he would be banished to the AHL for the better part of the next four years. From 2005 to 2009, where he would become a full-time NHL regular, the Devils would have six different head coaches. It is hard to try and make an impression when each time you get a cup of coffee in the show, it is with someone different.
Bergfors was no slouch in the AHL either. He would have 40 points in his very first season in the AHL. Although he did not replicate that success the next two seasons, he was consistently passed over and not given an opportunity in favor of older players like Bobby Holik, Brian Rolston, and Brendan Shanahan. He would finally get a full-time opportunity and would make the most of it. Bergfors had 27 points in 54 games during his age-22 season and would be swiftly dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ilya Kovalchuk.