New Jersey Devils, Alex Holtz
Photo Credit: Mark Fischgrund

Devils fans wonder what the future holds for Alexander Holtz

You would think a head coach of a struggling team would try to give well-performing players more opportunities than others, but for New Jersey Devils Head Coach Lindy Ruff, that seems not to be the case.

Since the start of this season, Devils fans are beginning to wonder what Lindy Ruff is trying to do with young Swede Alexander Holtz. 

Holtz's Rookie Year

During the 2022-23 season, the Devils were a total powerhouse top to bottom, making it almost impossible for Holtz to ever find a role even within the Bottom 6. Rather than having the rookie watch from the press box, the organization decided it was best for him to go back to their AHL affiliate, The Utica Comets, to further his development. 

Last year with the Devils, Holtz finished with 19 games played. With only three goals and one assist, he had four points to total the season and a plus/minus of -6. During Holtz's time in Utica, his stats were similar to those he had with the Devils.

With the team's fifth-most 5v5 goals scored on the team and among the lowest TOI each night, Alexander Holtz has taken up a peculiar role— and fans are beginning to speculate precisely what that role is. 

That role appears to be Lindy's punching bag.

How Has Holtz Improved?

To give Lindy the benefit of the doubt, one fatal flaw in Holtz's game as a rookie was his inability to keep up with the NHL pace in terms of skating. Due to that, during the offseason, Holtz began training with fellow Devils teammate and dynamic skater Jesper Bratt. He trained both on and off the ice to increase his ability to skate at the NHL level.

Holtz's extensive training from June to September is paying off, for the most part. He is visibly faster and stronger and can control the game's pace at a significantly better level than his rookie year. 

Holtz is becoming the player everybody hoped he would be, except for Lindy Ruff.

Holtz and Ruff In Recent Light

After scoring the game-tying goal against the Montreal Canadiens on January 17, fans were over the moon excited for Holtz. Even with his limited ice time, Holtz was still able to make a great play and score a crucial goal for the team. For Holtz, this is quite a trend. 

When Devils reporter Ryan Novozinsky asked Coach Ruff about Holtz's frequently low ice times and impromptu benchings, Ruff responded, "You don't watch the game very well."

This response took fans aback, but it's nothing new to Lindy.

In a post-game interview back in the 2021-22 season, the same reporter asked a similar question to Ruff. However, at that time, the topic of discussion was Jesper Bratt's utilization— and his response was eye-opening. 

"That's not enough ice time?"

These responses did not leave a good mark on the fans, as they are starting to get sick of how Coach Ruff treats some of his players. 

Holtz Gets Benched

Even with the momentous game-tying goal, Holtz was still benched. He only had 8:07 minutes of ice time in the third period— but why?

Holtz had made a bad play during the second period. This play gave Montreal a great scoring chance right in the Devils' zone, but fans are saying it was a team effort. For whatever reason, Lindy benched him for most of the third period. 

After practice on Thursday, Holtz spoke with reporter Ryan Novozinsky and said he feels he's getting better every game, and his confidence is growing. He also acknowledged that the decisions are all up to Ruff.

The Consensus

If Ruff keeps making these kinds of decisions, what does this mean for Holtz going forward— and will he see more ice time? 

Even with what seems to be an injury-prone roster, Lindy is hesitant to give the current bottom six forward a chance— once again leaving fans to wonder what exactly he is attempting to do with his team.

The 21-year-old has the potential to produce high numbers with minimal playing time. He could have a bright future ahead of him— if that potential ever gets recognized.