Dylan Holloway has it in him to be an impactful piece for the Oilers

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
23 days ago
Last season, in early January, the Oilers decided to recall defenceman Vinny Desharnais from the Bakersfield Condors. It was a big moment for the then-26-year-old from Laval, Quebec. 
He was on the verge of completing the rare path of seventh-round pick to NHL debut. Just how rare of an accomplishment is that? Well, to find the last time an Oiler picked in the seventh round or later ended up playing in an NHL game, just one single game, you need to go back to the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and 214th overall pick Kyle Brodziak.
Just making the NHL as a seventh-round pick is a rare enough feat. From Desharnais’ class, there are only three others who have played a single game, and none of them have eclipsed the 25-game mark, and none of them are currently on NHL rosters.
For Desharnais, he didn’t just get a cup of coffee, though. He walked onto the Oilers roster as a rookie in his mid-twenties, slid into a spot on the team’s third-pairing, and really never let go.
He was given an opportunity and did everything in his power to make sure the Oilers did not want to take him out of the lineup. Were there rough patches? Sure. Everyone remembers the moments against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs. He’s had his hiccups, but for the most part, he’s been a reliable third-pairing defenseman.
Nothing is guaranteed in the NHL and you never know when your next opportunity will or won’t come. For Desharnais, that mindset took him from an AHL veteran to an everyday NHL defenseman on the verge of signing a solid contract. I loved his one-on-one with Jason Gregor, which you can watch here:

Failed to load video.

That brings me to today’s topic: Dylan Holloway.
Connor McDavid’s injury has opened the door for Holloway to come back to the big club and while we have speculated for a while that the 2019 first-round pick would get another look with the Oilers before the end of the regular season, having it come at a time when a top offensive player is out of the lineup presents will allow Holloway to play with skill and play more than nine minutes a game.
He might not get another opportunity like this with the Oilers.
His most common linemate this season has been Ryan McLeod, they’ve spent 160:55 together at 5v5 but the difference could come in how that line is used without McDavid in the lineup.
Before last night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, Holloway was averaging 11:03 per game. Now, he doesn’t play on the penalty kill or powerplay, so that will always hurt his minutes but I’ve been calling for the Oilers to give Holloway a more meaningful opportunity for over a year now and it hasn’t really come on a consistent basis.
Last night, we saw him get a good opportunity and thrived. He played 12:40 against Vegas, recorded two shots on goal, dished out three hits, and most importantly found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
On top of that, he got a regular shift with the same linemates and continued to look more comfortable with them as the game went on. He was one of the most noticeable Oilers forwards in that victory over Vegas.
He also played a key role in the Mattias Ekholm goal that put the Oilers up 2-0. After just missing on a two-on-one with Ryan McLeod, he forced a turnover in the offensive zone and then planted himself in front of the net and boxed out the Golden Knights defenseman before Ekholm fired it home.
If he can play this style of game and be this effective, the it’s going to be very difficult for Head Coach Kris Knoblauch to justify taking him out of the lineup. He skates very well, he forechecks hard and he has offensive upside. He is a skilled player even if the numbers that he’s posted so far in his NHL career.
I know people will look at the fact that he’s only scored seven goals in his first 84 regular season games and say that he can’t be a factor offensively, but what I’ve seen so far this season is a player who’s started to look more and more comfortable carrying the puck into the offensive zone. 
Early on, he was a player who was seemingly scared to make a mistake, and that will happen with young players. At times this year, we’ve seen flashes of a player who knows he has the skill to make a move around an NHL defenseman and who knows that if he hangs on to the puck for an extra split second, he can make a play with it.
There is upside to having Dylan Holloway in the lineup and I want to see him force the Oilers’ hand over this next stretch of games. Grab the bull by the horns and make Kris Knoblauch have to have an uncomfortable conversation with a veteran ahead of the first playoff game in ten days.
Holloway has it in him to be an impactful piece of this forward group.


Star Mechanical is one of Edmonton’s biggest locally owned and operated plumbing and heating businesses. They have been working within the community for over 20 years, and many of the homes built in Edmonton over the last two decades have had their plumbing and heating systems installed by Star Mechanical.  Visit them at starmechanical.ca to schedule an appointment and let them help keep your home running smoothly.

Check out these posts...