Today, in our early look at the top of the 2020 draft board here at All About the Jersey, I take a look at one of the top European skaters eligible. He will almost undoubtedly be one of the top 10 skaters off of the board, although he is perhaps more likely to go somewhere between picks 5-9.
Alexander Holtz is a taller Swedish winger, coming in at 6 foot even and weighing 183 pounds. He has good size, and a skillset to match. He has played his entire career to this point in the Swedish system, rising all the way to play the majority of his games this season in the SHL, Sweden’s top professional league. As always, the debate for European skaters is whether to play in the pro game at home, or come to North America and play in juniors/college here. Holtz elected to go the former route, and considering his draft ranking, he has made a solid choice. Let’s dive in.
Who is Alexander Holtz?
Holtz is nothing if he is not a goal scorer. Going all the way back to 2016-17 when he was playing in some under 16 games, but mostly capitalizing on under 18 opportunities, he has always produced more goals than assists. And that is saying something given his high point totals year after year. In 23 games in under 18 play in that 2016-17 season as a 14/15 year old, he produced an excellent 40 points, with 23 of those coming as goals. He backed that up the following year, in those same under 18 leagues in Sweden, with 41 goals and 74 points, and another 11 goals and 1 assist in 6 playoff games. As I said, a goal machine.
Last year, 2018-19, playing mostly in the under 20 league as a 16-17 year old, he had 30 goals and 47 points in 38 games, and even got to see action in 3 SHL games despite not scoring. This past season, playing in 35 pro games for Djurgårdens IF, he had 9 goals and 7 assists. You might notice the severe point drop there, but that comes with the massive talent jump from Sweden’s J20 league and their top pro league, which is one of the top leagues in the world. As a 17/18 year old this year, he was playing with fully grown men, many of whom have had years of pro experience, and he still produced nearly a half point per game. That is great stuff.
This upcoming season, after being drafted, he will most likely still return to the SHL for his first full season there, developing more before joining whatever NHL team takes him. If he continues to grow at the pace he has been, however, it won’t be long before he begins to see regular NHL action, especially if he is drafted by a team that has a dearth of scoring talent (*cough*New Jersey*cough*).
Where is Holtz Ranked?
With us writing these profiles so early, Central Scouting has not yet released final rankings. So, we are going on their Midterm rankings here, which have been out for a couple of months. Sometimes, players rise or drop dramatically from the midterm to final rankings, but with the seasons cut short, the midterms are probably going to be fairly similar to the finals this year.
To that end, Holtz is ranked as the #3 European skater entering this draft. Only German-born Tim Stützle and fellow Swede Lucas Raymond are ranked higher than him, and both of them have been previewed on this site here already, so you can see what he is up against.
-Future Considerations has him ranked as the #5 overall skater in this draft. Again, Stützle and Raymond are just above him, with two Canadians at the top, again both of whom have been profiled already at AATJ.
-The Draft Analyst, in his March rankings, is slightly lower on Holtz, ranking him #6 overall. However, he does have Holtz higher than Raymond, so he is the top Swede here.
-The Hockey Writers, in their February rankings, has Holtz at #6 as well. Their rankings have the same 4 above Holtz as FC does, with the addition of Canadian defenseman Jamie Drysdale coming in 4th overall.
-Draft Site, which has a mock draft that will continually be updated until the draft, currently has the Devils at #6 taking our friend Holtz here. Makes perfect sense to me, honestly, as I will discuss below.
-ISS, in their top 31 for March, has Holtz the lowest you will see him, which is #9 overall. They have him as the #4 European, also behind Finnish center Anton Lundell.
-Dobber Prospects ranked European skaters last month, and had Holtz predictably at #3, behind the same two you keep seeing above him.
-Lastly, McKeen’s has Holtz at #5 as well.
What Others Have Said About Holtz
In those Dobber rankings from last month I referred to in the rankings section, writer Jokke Nevalainen had some really positive things to say about the Swedish winger. Simply put, he writes that Holtz is “still the best goal-scorer among this group.” Further, he writes that “he has an elite level shot and he’s excellent at making himself available for a shooting opportunity.” These are, of course, things the Devils desperately need. And to possibly alleviate some fears, Nevalainen also writes that Holtz is “not a one-dimensional goal-scorer either because he’s also an excellent playmaker who creates scoring chances for his linemates all the time.” He also notes that Holtz has plus awareness, again dissolving the notion that he has a one track mind out there on the ice.
Elite Prospects has a short write up on Holtz from a couple of seasons ago, but can still be prevalent. They wrote that “Holtz is a true goal scorer with an impressive wrist shot and slapper. He has the ability to know exactly where to be on the ice to make things happen.” Furthermore, they say that Holtz is “a smart player with good on-ice vision and fine technical skills.” Perhaps the one thing they say that isn’t amazing is that Holtz is only a “capable skater, although his acceleration could be better.” Again, overall, this is what a team lacking in goal scoring wants to see.
Puck Prose had a draft profile on Holtz two months ago. It is well detailed and informed, and something I definitely recommend checking out in full. Here, I just want to highlight some quotes: “he is a very well-balanced player, often not making the same mistakes more than once.” … “when he is in the defensive zone, he keeps his head on a swivel...allowing him to make a play such as intercepting a pass or blocking a shot.” … “above-average speed, with great acceleration that allows him to hit his top speed rather quickly” (different from what Elite Prospects said two years ago) … “plays with an incredible hockey IQ. His positional awareness in both the offensive and defensive ends is most definitely noticeable.” …”reads the play at an elite level, as he has next-level anticipation” … “possesses incredible passing abilities.” The profile keeps going on too. There are some notes of areas Holtz needs improvement, such as in stopping and edge-work in his skating, and he does not yet play on the penalty kill. Overall, however, he writes that “I feel confident saying that I cannot see Holtz being a bust.” That is all you need to know right there.
The Hockey Writers only recently posted their profile of Holtz. They give him only a 1/5 risk factor, a 4.5/5 reward factor, and a 9/10 offense score, although only a 6/10 defense score. This page is great for quotes from others, so if you want to see more quotes from pundits, check out this profile. Overall, here is what they say about his potential:
“Holtz is an exceptional talent with a bright future in the NHL. From his speed, elite hockey sense, quick hands, and NHL-ready shot, he has all the things you want in a top-line winger. He also has the vision to create plays for his teammates as well. Basically, he’s the complete package, with very little weaknesses to his game. He has the potential to be a top-five pick and will be a top-10 pick for sure. Whichever team has the good fortune of selecting in the top-10 will be very happy with Holtz as he has the potential to step into an NHL lineup right away. Once his acceleration catches up to his shot and dynamic playmaking abilities, he will be a handful for opposition defenders. His work ethic and battle level alone could propel him to greatness.”
A Little Video
Here is a highlight package, mostly of him playing international hockey for Team Sweden, although at the end they go to his club team:
Here is a shift-by-shift video from a game in the SHL on January 31 of this year if you are interested:
Here are highlights from this season in the SHL:
This is a highlight package specifically from the U18 Worlds in 2019:
If you are following our daily prospect profiles here at AATJ, you will notice that the top of the draft board this year is loaded with talent. That is a good thing, as the Devils will undoubtedly be picking there, even if they do not win the lottery. And I think today, that is what we are looking at. Alexander Holtz is an amazing talent, a sniper with high hockey IQ and an ability to make his linemates better. In this loaded 2020 Draft, however, every single scouting service or other pundit or organization who ranks prospects has him between #5 overall and #9 overall. If he falls to #9, someone is getting an absolute steal in my opinion. If he is taken at #5, that team is getting a heck of a hockey player.
For New Jersey, this makes me feel a lot better. Of course, I want the team to win the lottery and pick in the top 3. If they do, they are not taking Holtz. They are taking the likes of Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Tim Stützle, or perhaps even Lucas Raymond depending on if they draft 1, 2, or 3 overall. And those would all be excellent selections, ones I would be beyond thrilled about as a Devils fan.
But say they lose the lottery this season, which is extremely likely since they traded away Taylor Hall (who should have a cult following at this point with his draft lottery magic). Draft Site, as I linked to above, has the Devils mocked at pick #6, a very possible outcome if they do not win the lottery. If that occurs, and they get Alexander Holtz as their selection, I would still be very excited with the pick, and would feel pretty confident that they just got themselves a legit NHL talent. His skillset is one the Devils desperately need. There are not too many players on this team who are legit snipers, who should be thinking shoot first, but who also have the ability to dish it when their linemates have the better opening. Kyle Palmieri is one, the man is a shooter. However, it gets questionable behind him. Holtz would be another one of those players right off the bat, and would make this offense better, perhaps as early as the 2021-22 season. This team has needed scorers, pure scorers, for a long time, and Holtz would help to fill that gap quickly.
To sum it up: if the Devils do not win the lottery, I want them to take this guy, and I hope he ends up in the red and black. It really is that simple.
Now that you have read up on him, what do you think about Alexander Holtz? Do you agree with me that this winger is someone the Devils could really use and should be looking to take if they do not win one of the top 3 picks in the draft? Or, do you like someone else around picks 5-9? If so, who would you prefer over Holtz, and why? What makes you most excited about Holtz’s game, and/or what makes you wary about taking him? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!