It would be tempting for the Edmonton Oilers to call up a red-hot Dylan Holloway. In fact, it’s a move that might happen considering the Oilers could be one piece away from a very dangerous top-nine that is filled with speed, skill, energy, and tenacity. That said, it would serve the Oilers well to wait on the Hollway promotion, barring only a deadline trade that necessitates using him should they have a spot open. Even then, it’s a decision that shouldn’t be made in haste.
The Situation Is Seemingly Perfect for Holloway
With points in all of their last six games, the Oilers have rebounded from a series of losses and are working hard to get themselves back into the playoff picture. They’ve added Evander Kane (he has paid immediate dividends), their top stars are scoring like top stars again and the lines are more balanced than they’ve been at any time this season. Meanwhile, Holloway has joined the Bakersfield Condors and in five games has five points. He looks like a stud already and there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re an Oilers fan.
As the Oilers approach the playoffs, it’s only natural for the team to believe that Holloway could contribute at the NHL level. Most amateur scouts deemed him NHL ready and only a couple of poorly-timed injuries have kept him from getting a look in the pros. If he keeps up his pace in the AHL, it will be tempting for GM Ken Holland to take a better look.
Oilers Should Resist the Temptation
For every wart and wrinkle fans complain about with Holland, the one thing he’s stayed committed to is the belief that prospects need time. This particular GM is hesitant to call up players before they’re ready and he likes to call it the practice of “over-ripening” his young talent. At worst, he’ll give players a short look, (just a taste of NHL action) but send them back. There’s no reason that approach should change with Holloway.
Keeping him (and players like him) in the AHL is, 99 percent of the time, the best course of action. There’s nothing wrong with a player gaining confidence, playing in the league until he’s simply too good to be there, and feeling good about his ability to help an NHL team when he finally gets the call. And, for the Oilers, they should only be willing to bring him in if he can help.
There’s no need to play Holloway in a position that doesn’t serve him well. While he could play on the third or fourth line, a top-six spot is ideal. Right now, there’s not really one available. Who do the Oilers demote? Kailer Yamamoto? Jesse Puljujarvi? One could even argue that Warren Foegele is doing his job when placed in an elevated role. When the Oilers are healthy, they’re a fairly deep team already.
There Is One Exception
If the Oilers are beating teams like Montreal 7-2 or finding ways to win against the Washington Capitals using special teams to overcome some sloppy play, they’re in a good spot if the team can stay consistent for all other games in between. And, consistency is key.
Consistency will allow Holland the opportunity to see what he needs before the trade deadline. Perhaps the third line which consists of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman stays the third line and they need a winger. In that case, maybe Holloway fits. The more likely scenario is that the forward group is already set but the defense and goaltending need to be addressed. In that instance, the GM might have to move a piece from the top nine to get what he needs.
Whether that be Yamamoto or even someone like Zack Kassian to clear cap space, a door gets opened for Holloway that the Oilers should consider letting him walk through. As per Kurt Leavins of The Edmonton Journal:
Dylan Holloway scored his first professional goal this week in Bakersfield. He projects to be the additional forward depth. I think Holland will look for shut-down depth on Defence (ideally, a RHS) at a budget price. But I think he will be open to spending a prime asset and perhaps even 2 on a starting goalie.
If Yamamoto is going the other way or another piece is moved to add a defenseman or goaltender, Holloway should get his shot. That said, he should be in the mix with players like Tyler Benson and Colton Sceviour before the Oilers deem Holloway a slam dunk decision.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”