Three things to watch for at New Jersey Devils training camp
JP Gambatese sets the table for some storylines, and roster battles, to zero in on when camp begins later this month.
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By JP Gambatese (@JP_Gambatese)
It’s finally September, and that means that training camp (and real, live hockey) is right around the corner.
Fans should be getting a pretty solid idea of what the team is going to look like for opening day pretty soon.
With that said, there are some obvious battles I envision and questions I have going into training camp, and it’s time to legitimately put some thought into them.
Unless two forwards absolutely blow everyone in the Devils’ front office away in training camp, Alex Holtz has a spot on the Devils’ opening night roster. He clearly has NHL-ready offensive talent and should be penciled into the top-9.
My question isn’t about whether Holtz gets a spot, it’s where his spot will be. I’ve deep-dove my thoughts on Holtz before, so I’ll spare sharing where I think he should be and assume that he ends up on the 3rd line.
As much as I believe in his ability, he’d have to jump one or both of Dawson Mercer or Tyler Toffoli on the depth chart and I just don’t see Ruff trusting him enough to let that happen.
Mercer and Toffoli are both proven top-6 commodities and I don’t think Holtz will show enough at training camp to change anyone’s mind about it.
With that said, I don’t think Holtz on the 3rd line would necessarily be a problem anymore. I previously thought that the line would be too slow, that Mercer would be the ideal third line player for Palat and Haula.
However, Holtz has made clear strides in his skating ability (which, I must say, was not that bad to begin with), or at least appears to be doing so based on his skating coach’s Instagram clips.
Holtz theoretically provides the triggerman ability for the two primarily pass-first players in Palat and Haula, without sacrificing speed in a Devils system that thrives on off-the-rush play.
The only way to see this, though, is by watching Holtz throughout training camp and the preseason, and boy am I excited to keep my eye on him during it.
Nolan Foote, Graeme Clarke, or Tyce Thompson?
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