The New Jersey Devils came into the 2023-24 season expecting to be one of the best teams in the NHL. They have been a little sloppy in November, but there have been some tough injuries to consequential players which made it hard to win.
Things have been coming together lately though as they have started to look like the team we all thought they’d be. Health is a big reason for that but a few players are starting to step up. One of those guys is Alexander Holtz.
Holtz has been a man on a mission lately as he clearly wants to be a full-time NHL player. It would have been fair to wonder if that were possible coming into the season, but now it feels likely. He has been a great player for the Devils this season so far.
Now, Holtz is not performing like a young superstar but that isn’t what the Devils are looking for. They have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier to lead the way in that department. They just need Holtz to be a responsible player that is considered a good contributor.
The New Jersey Devils are hoping to see big things from Alexander Holtz
He was the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft so the Devils clearly had some high hopes for him. Thanks to some trades, they also landed Dawson Mercer and Shakir Mukhamadullin in the same first round. Of course, Mercer is a great player, and Mukhamadullin was a big piece in the Timo Meier trade.
It was fair to worry about Holtz, but it is also fair to be excited about him now. In 20 games played this season, Holtz has six goals and three assists for nine points. It isn’t star-level play, but it is solid contribution from a young player with a great shot.
Part of the reason Holtz was struggling was because of his skating and inability to find the high-danger areas. So far this year, those things are working well for him, and he is clearly improving with every passing day.
He didn’t have a point in Tuesday’s win over the New York Islanders, but his presence was clearly felt. On the goal that Michael McLeod scored, Holtz did an amazing job driving the net and being the decoy for the pass. McLeod was able to rip it past Ilya Sorokin because he was worried about a pass across.
On the game-winning goal scored by Curtis Lazar, Holtz was jamming at the puck to the point where it looked like he might have been the one to score. It was clearly Lazar’s goal but he was there creating chaos. That goes to the high-danger critique of his game and how he is improving on it.
There isn’t much room for Holtz in the top six. However, when Hischier and Hughes are in the lineup, that creates more depth down the middle, which helps a third-line winger like Holtz out a lot. It is clear from watching him play with McLeod right now. Who knows? Maybe he’ll get a longer look with one of the star centers in the future.
If he continues to produce like this, New Jersey’s offensive attack will continue to take big steps. He should be proud of where he’s at but there is a long way to go for him to reach his full potential.