RW, Djugårdens IF (SHL)
6’1″/182 lbs, 17.65 years
Elite scorer; can create offence for himself:
- Holtz is an unbelievably talented scorer– probably the best in the entire draft. What sets him apart from plenty of other high-level scorers is his ability to create time and space for himself. He can create offence independently of a similarly talented playmaker.
- Armed with an absolutely devastating shot, Holtz is a threat from just about anywhere he can get a shot off from. The power, accuracy, and deceptive release are all there. Give him space, and he’ll make you pay.
- Excellent offensive instincts: attacks the slot, finds open space, and feasts on defensive mistakes. Look at how he darts into the slot just at the right time to grab the rebound here:
- There’s a narrative out there that Holtz is a below-average skater. I have no idea where it started, but it couldn’t be any more misinformed. In reality, Holtz is one of the best skaters in the draft. Regardless of the level of competition– Hlinka, WJSS, SHL, or SuperElit, Holtz’s skating ability is evident.
- Wide, powerful stride creates speed and balance. He moves very well laterally, mixing side-to-side agility with vertical speed. Extremely capable through the neutral zone, crossing the blueline with control and pace.
Talented secondary playmaker:
- Holtz’ scoring ability will always be his primary method of attack, but his playmaking provides an impressive secondary source of offence.
- The Swede has excellent vision and solid passing touch. His knack for attacking the slot isn’t only a benefactor to his scoring ability– he’s also able to create opportunities for his teammates from that high-danger area.
- Knows when to distribute the puck rather than trying to finish the play by himself. Look at this play below– Holtz is right in front of the net with the puck, but he has the awareness and vision to kick it out backdoor for a terrific one-time opportunity:
- Holtz has the puck skills to match his scoring prowess. He has extraordinarily quick hands, handling the puck well in traffic.
- He has a wide variety of moves in his arsenal, making him extremely difficult to combat in one-on-one situations. Can beat defenders off the rush and create space for himself to get shots off.
- Handles the puck very well in tight around the net, navigating defenders and the goaltender extremely well. Exceptional awareness– able to sense threats to his possession and move to avoid them before they arrive.
Inconsistent First Steps:
- Holtz’ first few steps aren’t *poor*, but they can be inconsistent. Holtz is an excellent skater, but his stride can be quite sluggish at times.
- It’s difficult to describe– it’s like a hitch in his stride, but it isn’t there 100% of the time. Sam Stern puts it into words very well here:
- My major criticism of Holtz’s game is his skating ability. His top speed isn’t bad, but it takes him far too long to get there. Some moments it seems like he has resistance bands on, others he has high-end acceleration.
- It’s impossibly frustrating.
- — Sam Stern (@SternScouting) July 9, 2019
Holtz’ raw, unadjusted production is the lowest of the “big three” Swedish forwards– Holtz, Lucas Raymond, and Noel Gunler– up for the 2020 draft. But when we look at primary points per game, which are more repeatable than overall production, Holtz jumps up into second on that list, leading Raymond by a considerable margin of about 0.16 P1/GP. When we tighten the filter even more, moving to even-strength primary points per contest, Holtz moves up to the very top of the table.Some might jump to the conclusion that a player with Holtz’ sniping resume might be reliant on the powerplay for a lot of his production, but that’s objectively incorrect. Noel Gunler managed more than 0.2 points per game more than Holtz did last year, but Holtz was the more efficient creator of primary points at even strength. Auston Matthews was rewarded with a massive $58M contract for being the most efficient producer of 5v5 goals in the NHL. If Holtz can translate his even-strength ability to the major league level, he’ll have a big payday waiting for him someday as well.
A versatile, multi-threat sniper, Holtz can be relied on as a consistent producer of offence. He penetrates dangerous areas with his instincts, hands, and skating ability, darting and dangling his way into the slot for high-quality opportunities. And with his lethal finishing ability, a lot of those shots end up in the back of the net.
The Swede is off to a hot start to his draft campaign, beginning his 2019-20 season with two points in four Champions Hockey League games and three tallies in as many SHL contests. With the way his play is trending, it’s unlikely that he falls out of the Swedish Hockey League for any stretch of time this upcoming year. Barring an injury or some kind of drastic drop in performance, Holtz should spend the majority of Djugårdens’ 52 game season as a key fixture in the team’s lineup. He won’t sustain his point per game pace over the full campaign, but Holtz has already earned a top 6 role on the roster and should be good for at least 0.5 PTS/GP over the full season.
Holtz projects as a top line talent and potential 40+ goal scorer at the NHL level. He appears to be well on his way to proving himself at the professional level in the SHL, and the shot, instincts, and puck skills that have made him so lethal at every level he’s played at should continue to be effective against the best competition in the world. Holtz has a track record of playing above his age group– debuting in the SHL as a draft-minus-one, starring for the Swedish U18 team at the Hlinka at sixteen years old, and making the WJSS U20 roster at seventeen. He has a proven ability to adapt to increasingly higher levels of play, and there’s no reason why that track record should change as Holtz transitions into the NHL.
Photo Credit: Johan Sahlén