Prior to the 2020 NHL Draft, Alexander Holtz was touted as perhaps having the best pure shot of any player in his draft class. When the New Jersey Devils stepped to the podium with the seventh choice, they wasted little time in adding the sniping winger to their pool of prospects. Since that moment of being drafted, Holtz’s success has been a bit of a mixed bag. Today we look at what his 2021 season looked like, and what our expectations, as fans, should be for the 2021-22 season.
Holtz in 2021
After being adding to the organization, Holtz did not sign an entry-level contract immediately, instead choosing to remain with his SHL team, Djurgårdens IF. This past season saw him improve his point total only by two (from 16 to 18) while actually potting less goals for his team and appearing in five more contests. Of note, however, is that Djurgårdens was a considerably average team at best this past year. They did qualify for the playoffs, and Holtz did a much better job there, posting two goals and two assists in three games. Djurgårdens’ season would come to a close in the first round.
After the elimination, Holtz would go on to sign his entry level deal for the upcoming season, while joining the Binghamton Devils on an amateur tryout. He would play 10 games in Binghamton, posting just one goal and two assists. While the stats are probably lower than many fans would’ve liked to have seen, Holtz is obviously still a very young player who will continue to grow and he happened to be on two teams that struggled to succeed last season.
The Hope for 2021-22
With Holtz coming over late last season and adjusting to playing in a different league (and a different country), I think we can understand him not setting the league on fire right away. Heck, I think it’s fair to say we might not even expect that from him THIS season. I know as fans we want all of our high picks to perform at all star levels, but expecting it right off the bat simply isn’t realistic.
Now we can certainly hope that Holtz immediately puts everything together and becomes a dominant force in the AHL. We can hope that he’s a point per game or better, and leading the team in goal scoring. Heck, we could hope that he winds up playing so well that the Devils call him up to New Jersey to buoy the main club should they struggle. Again though, how realistic are those scenarios?
If we want to keep ourselves grounded, I think what I and probably most Devils fans want to see is growth; we want Holts to be putting up large point totals, and excelling in the AHL or SHL (if the Devils send him back to Djurgårdens on loan) wherever he plays. We want to see games where he’s the most threatening shooter on the ice; we want to see multiple games where he contributes multiple goals. I don’t think asking those things to happens is unrealistic.
And there will be growing pains, especially if Alex continues to play in North America. He has work to do as a player to become more complete prior to making his NHL debut, as any prospect does. So again, I don’ think we should be making any “Holtz makes the team out of camp on Hughes’ wing on line 1” predictions this year, but I also think it’s fair for us to hold him to a high standard and say, “Hey, went to see production out of you not matter what league you play in.”
For me personally, if Holtz can come in and hold his own/lead his team in either the AHL or SHL, I will call that a victory and a good sign for things to come.
What do you see as a reasonable expectation of Alexander Holtz this upcoming season? Do you think he stays in the AHL or goes back to the SHL on loan? What aspects of his game are you wanting him to develop more? How far away from an NHL debut, even if just a cup of coffee stint, do you think he is? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!