Does Dylan Holloway fit in the Edmonton Oilers forward group?

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
Dylan Holloway should be able to return to the Edmonton Oilers lineup soon.
The biggest question: should he remain on the big club’s roster?
The Oilers find themselves in a good position right now. The depth on their roster is as strong as it’s been in years, and good players are fighting for bottom-six minutes. Coming into this season, Holloway was essentially gifted a spot on the big club due to a money squeeze, but he really did earn it. He had a tremendous development camp and shined in the preseason.
Three games into his first regular season, he got laid out in center ice by Buffalo Sabres defenceman Ilya Lybushkin. He’s missed the Oilers’ last three games, but he might have a hard time breaking back into the lineup.
Here’s the way the Oilers’ roster shook out after some line changes Monday night.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
Evander Kane – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Warren Foegele – Ryan McLeod – Jesse Puljujarvi
Devin Shore – Derek Ryan
The Oilers seem, as of now, content on running 11 forwards and seven defencemen. As we saw when Holloway left last week’s game, things got a little tight up front, but Jay Woodcroft did a strong job in managing everyone’s minutes.
When I look at this lineup — unless the Oilers decide to go back to 12/6 — I have a hard time seeing Holloway slotting back in. GM Ken Holland said previously he wants Holloway in the top nine or in Bakersfield avoiding the few minutes the Oilers’ fourth line sees.
As it stands the Oilers’ top six is near perfect, beyond a struggling Kailer Yamamoto.
We’re looking at tremendous sample sizes here this season, but these lines are all dominating pace of play. If they’re hot, they’re hot. The Oilers’ top line of RNH, McDavid and Hyman spent few minutes together last year, but have shown the ability to be incredibly effective on the ice.
Draisaitl and Kane clearly had a connection Monday even while Yamamoto has struggled to find his game. (Edmonton’s incessant desire to keep the latter of the three in the top-six is a story for another day, however).
So where does that leave Holloway? In my eyes, the outside looking in. Now, this isn’t the worst thing — far from it, honestly. The Oilers would be wise to send him down to the Bakersfield Condors and allow him to further work on his game. It’s not a demotion — far from it. The Oilers will face injuries, and there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll play significant minutes for the big club.
But right now, the Oilers as a whole are struggling to find their game early on this season and they need to find a level of consistency. I’m not sure Holloway is ready to bring that at the NHL level.
The only change I’d make to the aforementioned top-nine? Swapping Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.
Kailer’s had a tough start to his year and the analytics playing in the Oilers’ top six are not kind to him. I wrote about that this month, and it remains applicable today.
Despite that, in another very small sample size, there could be something there with Yamamoto, Foegele and McLeod and I’d like to see that trio get a chance to play.
As for Puljujarvi in the top-six, he could be a big asset to Draisaitl and Kane. He’s been playing a big man’s game this year using his body more and his tenacity on pucks in all three zones is a skill set few Oilers possess.
At the end of the day, the Oilers have a depth problem and for once, it’s a good problem to have.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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