It only took a month for New Jersey Devils prospect Alexander Holtz to get summoned to the big club on their first road trip against the Los Angeles Kings. The call-up has come after a very hot five-goal streak to start off his season, and a really promising pre-season. Lindy Ruff and Mark Recchi have been looking for ways to improve their power play results. With the Devils power play going at a piteous 13% (27 out of 32 teams) the time couldn’t have been more revealing to bring up the Swedish sniper as previously predicted.
The Swedish sniper
Holtz loves being a shoot-first player and has what it takes to play at a big-league level having scored 16 goals and 34 points in two seasons at the SHL level (the highest level of pro hockey in Sweden) for Djurgardens IF. He also shoots from the point and below in the mid to high danger scoring areas. Give him any amount of space he’s the type of breed in hockey that lives and breathes those elite-level sniper shots on goal.
Although teams challenge Holtz to play in the low danger scoring areas he is not afraid to use that heavy slap shot whether it is even strength or on the power play.
The power play
In recent years the Devils power play has really dipped. It looks like General Manager Tom Fitzgerald will try and see if assistant coach Recchi can improve the New Jersey power play with a player of Holtz’s play style. There needs to be more shooting on the power play and the unit has passed the puck in an unconscionable manner.
Ruff certainly knew that as head coach it was very disconcerting to see the power-play fail several times not only last season but failing to do its main job and increasing offense. The time with Holtz on this roster should inject a lot of youth, and energy not only on the power play but one even strength. As mentioned in recent articles about Holtz fans and personnel will fall in love with his mindset, and his quick heavy shot that is accurate.
With a player like Tomas Tatar and Yegor Sharangovich not being able to score goals, at this time the Devils are 20th in Goals Per Game at 2.63 which is 20th place in the league. Both Ruff and Fitzgerald are looking to ignite an offensive flame that can help the Devils increase their output with Holtz in the lineup, but if those other goalless players begin clicking then there’s a lot of potential in a scoring punch. Confidence, skill, and that game-day mindset are very key that a few lineup improvements become a new improved standard.
If Holtz can boost the Devils goals per game, and power play from 20th and 27th in the NHL. Getting it to the top 16 and above will be a massive improvement where teams facing a Devils team with Holtz and others clicking it’ll be very hard to stop them from gaining more wins.
The Holtz effect
Having Holtz on the same team with Dawson Mercer from the same draft class on the same team can only help improve the team’s offensive, youth, and skill-styled chemistry allowing them to likely gel. Shakir Mukhamadullin who is currently overseas with Salavat Yulaev in the KHL in Russia is the last of the 2020 NHL Draft 1st rounders left to play for the Devils.
Mercer, as mentioned, is a 2-way 200 foot multipurpose forward versus Holtz who specializes in the sniper and the occasional playmaker role. Holtz, after getting pretty streaky on the 5 goals in 4 games played for Utica looks to seal his fate and remain on the Devils roster if he can keep the offensive production going.
It will be a wait-and-see type thing for Holtz’s first nine games at the NHL level while it looks like Mercer will burn off a year of his Entry-Level Contract. Do not be surprised if Holtz goes through a similar path to Mercer. Fans must be patient with Holtz now officially in a Devils’ uniform. If Holtz can remain the kind of high-level talent he was drafted to be, you should be ready to hear Howl by Gaslight Anthem (the Devils’ goal song) at upcoming home games and households when he rips one home.
Main image credit