Making the cut
Alexander Holtz, chosen No. 7 in the 2020 NHL Draft, is privy to the areas in which he needs to excel to earn a spot in the lineup. The 21-year-old forward, who has exhibited confidence and better skating in training camp, is an effective playmaker with a big shot. Kevin Dineen, coach of Utica in the American Hockey League, said Holtz showed a willingness to put in the work required to play a more prominent role. This will be his fourth season with the organization so now's the time for Holtz to prove he's ready to produce at the NHL level. He has six points (three goals, three assists) in 28 NHL games.
Most intriguing addition
Forward Tyler Toffoli was acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on June 27 for forward Yegor Sharangovich and a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft (forward Aydar Suniev). The 31-year-old old is expected to provide secondary scoring and veteran experience after setting NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (39) and points (73) in 82 games last season. Entering his 12th NHL season, Toffoli also has 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 88 postseason games, including winning the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014.
Biggest potential surprise
Simon Nemec, selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, will look to make it tough on management to return him to Utica out of training camp. The right-handed defenseman hasn't looked out of place after getting 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 65 AHL regular-season games and four points (one goal, three assists) in six playoff games last season. Dineen said that by the end of last season, the 19-year-old began showing a balance between getting involved on the offensive side and when to show more discipline and provide support defensively.
Ready to contribute
Luke Hughes has been limited in training camp but appears ready for his first full NHL season. Selected No. 4 in the 2021 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old had 87 points (27 goals, 60 assists) in two seasons (80 games) with the University of Michigan before signing his three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on April 8. He impressed with two points (one goal, one assist) in two regular-season games and two assists in three playoff games with New Jersey last season. This was after Hughes had 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 39 games as a sophomore to help Michigan finish 26-12-3 and reach the Frozen Four for the second straight season.
Schmid, G (fantasy average draft position: 160.4) -- After his impressive regular season, Schmid sparkled in the postseason with a 1.38 GAA, .951 save percentage and two shutouts in the first-round series against the Rangers. He could continue to cut into Vanecek's workload and emerge as the starter for the Devils, who allowed the fifth fewest shots on goal per game (28.2) in the NHL last season. -- Anna Dua