Edmonton Oilers fans are checking off the days until Christmas and soon will be able to start counting down to the return of prized prospect Dylan Holloway, who has been out of action for months as he recovers from wrist surgery.
After a period without providing any updates on the 20-year-old forward, Oilers coach Dave Tippett discussed Holloway’s status this week, and the news is encouraging.
Holloway is back on the ice, skating with a handful of Oilers who are currently on injured reserve (Duncan Keith, Darnell Nurse, Devin Shore, and goaltender Mike Smith), and now has some motion in his wrist.
“He saw the doctor today and he got cleared to do a little more, so that’s a positive sign,” Tippett said during his media availability on Monday (Nov. 29). “I don’t think he’ll play before Christmas, still, but he’s starting to use his hand, which is a little better.”
Once cleared for game action, Holloway is expected to be assigned to the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League (AHL), where he can finally make his long-awaited and highly anticipated pro hockey debut.
Plenty of Hype Around Holloway
There haven’t been many Oilers prospects in recent memory that have generated as much excitement as Holloway, a 6-foot-1 left winger that Edmonton selected 14th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Holloway was dominant as a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin last season, notching 11 goals and 24 assists in 23 games to rank fifth in NCAA scoring. He was voted to the All-Big Ten First Team and named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award (most outstanding player of the year in NCAA men’s hockey). Holloway was the Hockey Commissioners Association National Player of the Month for February, a month in which he totaled 17 points in eight games.
The Calgary product also won silver as a member of Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship.
In April, following the college season, the Oilers inked Holloway to a three-year entry-level contract beginning in 2021-22. In May, the Condors signed Holloway to an Amateur Tryout for the remainder of the season.
Holloway’s Debut Gets Delayed
Holloway had undergone surgery for a wrist fracture after Wisconsin was eliminated from the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament at the end of March. While the recovery was expected to take four weeks, he still wasn’t ready to play during his time with the Condors. With all summer to recover, expectations were that he would challenge for a spot on the Oilers’ 2021-22 opening night roster, potentially in the bottom six at center or left wing.
Related Link: Oilers’ Holloway Could Go Straight From NCAA to NHL
On Sept. 15, just days before Oilers Rookie camp, a shockwave was felt through Edmonton with the announcement that Holloway had undergone successful wrist surgery with a recovery expected to take a minimum of three months. It was a major setback for him, as he was basically starting from scratch. Oilers’ medical staff and hand specialists had determined during the recovery process for his original surgery that the star prospect required further surgery.
“It’s not good news, but he’s going to deal with it,” Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said at the time. “He seems to be a very motivated athlete, very intense, very focused, so I’m optimistic as we get a couple of months down the road, he’s going to push hard to get back as quickly as possible.”
Holloway Will Be Back Soon
Holloway last played on March 26 for Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament. Bakersfield’s first game after Christmas is scheduled for Dec. 27, nine months, and one day since he skated a shift.
Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 radio speculated that Holloway would spend January and February in the AHL. Depending on how things go those first couple of months, he may get recalled by the Oilers. It remains to be seen what the situation will be for team and player in March, but with the Oilers off to a phenomenal 16-5-0 start, there are no signs that Holloway will need to be rushed into the NHL.
His day in Edmonton is coming sooner or later, but after months of waiting, Oilers fans will be happy to see Holloway on the ice anywhere just so long as it’s much sooner than later.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.