Oilers Could Give Prospect Dylan Holloway a Shot This Season

There’s an interesting conversation going on in Edmonton this week as prospect Dylan Holloway might be available to the Edmonton Oilers before the end of the 2020-21 season. Not only that, but an argument is being made that the team should give him a healthy look.

Holloway was part of the Wisconsin team that got eliminated from the Big-10 this week and as such, a decision needs to be made on the forward. He was drafted in Round 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft at #14 overall and at the time he was drafted, there were questions about whether or not it was the best selection by the Oilers. Since that time, Holloway has done nothing but impress.

** Update: Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday night, during the Headlines segment, that Holloway played the last bit of his season with Wisconsin with a broken thumb. He wanted to gut out finishing the campaign, but obviously, this will affect any future Oilers’ decision on his playing time and location this season.

Holloway the Hobey Baker Candidate

Holloway scored 35 points in 23 games for the University of Wisconsin. As a result of a fantastic college season, he was named a Top-10 Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for Top NCAA Player. He’s currently leading the fan vote with 40% of the totals (just ahead of Shane Pinto) and he’s turned heads all season long.

Dylan Holloway University of Wisconsin
Dylan Holloway of the University of Wisconsin (Greg Anderson/UW Athletics)

Now that his season there is over, if Holloway does end up leaving Wisconsin and heading to Bakersfield, most think he’d make an immediate impact in the AHL.

Long-term, he’s the exact type of forward the Oilers are hoping will eventually slot into their top six and he’s shown already there’s an extremely high ceiling for the player that could be a huge part of the long-term plans for the organization.

Related: Edmonton Oilers’ Offseason Goalie Targets

What’s Next for the Oilers?

As Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic writes, “If Holloway signs with the Oilers (logical next step), a stint in Bakersfield makes the most sense.” He adds, “He can step right into the lineup (rather than having to quarantine) and get acclimated to the pro game. If he excelled, his skill set should be desirable to the big club.”

That said, Craig Button of TSN noted on TSN 1260’s Friday show, “I think he can play right now.” He wasn’t quite ready to say that Holloway would be in the Oilers top-six, but added, “Even in you start him on the third line, I think it’s a free opportunity to get a look.” He said if it doesn’t work out, that’s ok, but “I think he can come right in a play, he’s been a dominant player since the World Junior ended.”

Noting he’s big, strong, smart and can skate, “I do believe he’s ready to play.”

Jason Gregor noted he thought Holloway would get an AHL deal and an entry-level deal with the Oilers and start in the AHL. If he proves that he can handle the pace of that game, the one area Edmonton could use some improvement is on the second line at left wing with a forward who has some size. The only question is, can a 19-year-old take on the role and be successful right away?

Let Jay Woodcroft Decide

Perhaps it will be best for Condors coach Jay Woodcroft to make that decision. If Holloway comes in, plays well and scores like crazy, Woodcroft may tell the Oilers the player is ready. And, if the Oilers don’t add a forward at the trade deadline, Holloway has the potential to become that top-six add Edmonton wanted to make, but didn’t have the money to pull off a trade.

Should that happen, both Button and Gregor argued that if he’s up for less than seven games, the Oilers can always send him back and not burn a year off his entry-level deal.