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What if Alexander Holtz isn’t on the New Jersey Devils 2023-24 Opening Night Roster?

After a second middling season at the NHL level in 2022-23, New Jersey Devils prospect Alex Holtz could be entering a make or break season. Today we look at why him not being on the opening night roster may not be so bad.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Since being selected 7th overall in 2020 by the New Jersey Devils, winger Alexander Holtz has seemed poised to make a splash in the NHL. Selected both as one of the best players available at the time, and as a position of need at the time for the Devils, Holtz would get a nine game cup of coffee with the club in 2021-22, contributing just two assists. He would spend the rest of that season in Utica, scoring 51 points in 52 appearances for the Comets. With this almost point per game pace, many believed Holtz would segue into a full time NHL role in 2022-23.

Holtz would start his 2022-23 off on the right foot, scoring the Devils’ first goal of the season against the Second Rate Rivals. The rest of that game and the next one would not go well for the Devils, but while the Devils’ season shifted into a positive direction from that point on, Holtz’s season had the opposite trajectory. Holtz would manage to appear in 19 games spread sporadically throughout the season, contributing a total of three goals and an assist; he would also contribute 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 14 AHL games, but spent most of the season as an NHL healthy scratch.

So what happens for Alex Holtz in 2023-24? What if the stats are pretty much the same story, with him producing well in the AHL but struggling in the NHL? Or worse...what if he doesn’t make the NHL opening night roster? This will be Holtz’s fourth season post-draft, and at some point, if he is to be a part of the Devils’ future, he needs to produce at the NHL level. Some have seemingly already given up on him, wrting him off from their version’s of the team’s long-term plans. Others, seeing the Devils’ Top-6 get more crowded (where it is felt he needs to play to succeed) feel Holtz could be traded to upgrade a position of weakness, namely the goaltending.

With no goalie trade materializing, and spots getting tighter, another season with limited NHL production could see Holtz start to be associated with the dreaded “bust” label. I think we could see a different scenario for Holtz this season. 2022-23 saw him start in the NHL, struggle, and then be sent down/used as a fill-in at different junctures. I could see 2023-24 being almost a reverse of the past season, with Holtz starting in the AHL, building his confidence there, then joining the NHL team either as an injury call-up or just to inject some offense into the lineup. The panic might set in for fans if they see him not making the roster, but if it provides the route for Holtz to find sustained success, that’s the end goal.

Maybe this isn’t the most popular scenario, or one that some believe not to be plausible, but let’s look at some of the facts. Holtz is just 21 years old, and won’t turn 22 until the middle of the season. He is still exempt from waivers, which gives the team some flexibility with where they have him playing. He also still has quite a bif of potential and might just need a bit more time to put everything together to contribute to the Devils. With Tyler Toffoli joining the team, the plan could be to let Holtz hone his gane for one more season in Utica, at least until the big club needs to call him up. Whether he has a good training camp or not, I still think him starting the season in the AHL isn’t the death knell some might think it to be for his career. Holtz’s offensive skills are still useful to the team, provided they continue to develop him to maximize his potential.

What are your thoughts on Alex Holtz for this upcoming season; would you be concerned if he started in the AHL? Do you think he holds more value being on the ice for the Devils or in a trade for them to acquire a player at a different position? If he performs poorly in 2023-24, does he trend into bust territory in your eyes? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!