Monday Mailbag – Thoughts on Dylan Holloway’s rookie season so far?
Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
By baggedmilk10 months ago
Happy Monday and welcome to a brand new edition of the Mailbag to help you start your week and break down everything that’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at Connor McDavid’s big year, Dylan Holloway’s rookie season, playing down to competition, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Jan 13, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; The Edmonton Oilers bench celebrates with center Connor McDavid (97) during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
1) Clay asks – Every year we wonder how Connor McDavid is going to take his game to another level, and since he’s doing it again this season, what do you see or notice that he’s doing differently?
He is shooting more and shooting in motion more. He is averaging 4.18 shots/game this season after 3.93, 3.57, and 3.31 the previous three years.
One thing is he’s shooting more. His 4.18 shots per game is a career-high and well above his career average of 3.36. He also has more finishers and point producers around him with Leon, Kane, Hyman, and RNH.
I think it’s fairly simple. He’s shooting the puck way more than he has before. Not only that, he is putting himself in great positions and trusting his abilities.
Like a Pokemon, he is evolving and there’s nothing on earth that anyone can do about it. The thing I notice most is that he’s not always thinking pass first anymore, and it’s obviously making a big difference.
Jan 25, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson (91) celebrates a goal during overtime against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) Blair asks – We know there are no easy games in the NHL but what do you think is the reason the Oilers have struggled at times against bottom feeding teams?
Edmonton has not struggled v. bad teams this year or last year. They were 27-8-4 v. bottom teams last year and this year. They are 49-37-6 against the rest of the league. The issue is when the Oilers lose to Columbus people think it is the norm. It isn’t. No team wins all their games v. bottom teams. Many people need to realize there will be the odd loss v. a bottom 10 team.
Did the Columbus game prompt this question? No issues against Chicago or overall this season. My best guess is a lot of good teams give up points to no-to-good teams from time to time. The key is limiting it. Couldn’t give you one reason — beyond “they weren’t ready” — if I tried. It happens.
I actually don’t believe they struggle against the bottom teams often. At the end of the day, the bottom teams are going to win games once in a while. The Oilers are 9-2-1 against the “bad” teams in the NHL and in two of those games you could say they got goalied (Anaheim and Columbus). When you look around the league, Boston and Toronto have both lost to Arizona, Chicago and Anaheim have beaten Colorado and the New York Rangers, and San Jose have handed Dallas and Minnesota losses. Sometimes it just simply isn’t your night.
Sometimes I wonder if this is a problem we imagine in our minds, but then we get games like the one against Columbus and I’m confused all over again. That said, I’m looking at the numbers Gregor listed above and it’s pretty hard to argue the results.
Jan 17, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Seattle Kraken goaltender Martin Jones (30) makes a save on a deflection by Edmonton Oilers forward Dylan Holloway (55) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3) Allan asks – How would you describe the start of Dylan Holloway’s NHL career? He hasn’t produced quite as much as hoped but as we’ve seen over the years, the bigs isn’t always kind to rookies.
I don’t expect him to produce big numbers when he’s averaged 10 minutes/game and mainly in the bottom six. He has improved and learned as the season progresses. If he was on a bad team, he likely would be in the top six and getting more minutes and PP minutes. I think he is progressing nicely and he has been getting more ice time recently with McDavid, Draisaitl, and RNH.
You answered your own question. It’s the best league on the planet. Time sorts everything out. If he’s a player, we’ll see it. If he’s not, we won’t.
Slow progression. At the start of the season, I think we were noticing him for the wrong reasons like turning over the puck. Now, we are seeing him find ways to have a positive effect almost every night. He gets to the net more, he is able to create offence, and he’s being trusted to play in a top six role from time to time. It isn’t always going to be pretty – like his turnover to Max Domi on Saturday night – but being around NHLers everyday has definitely helped his development.
I think his rookie season has probably gone slower production wise than we all would have liked, but that’s why it’s important to not get too fired up about pre-season results. I think he’s going to be completely fine as he gets more at-bats so I’m looking forward to watching his evolution.
Jan 21, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Vincent Desharnais (73) and goalie Stuart Skinner (74) celebrate their victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Oilers won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
4) James in Peterborough asks – Vincent Desharnais is one of those players who I think most fans want to cheer for instantly. Curious to hear your early impressions of his play, and if you think he might be able to provide some answers, defensively, for a team that has been in desperate need of improved defensive play.
He is a great underdog story and I totally understand why many are fans of his. His size helps. I think he could become a solid, consistent third pair defender, who is hard to play against and can kill penalties. He will fill a defensive role, which is a good thing.
I like his physicality and his willingness to use it. That aside, he gets in the way and uses his reach to erase opposing forwards. I like to see honest guys who stick with it like he has catch a break and make it.
Desharnais’ game is simple and that’s what makes him so effective. He can break up the play, never over works a play and fires pucks on net. He knows his role and rarely does he over step the mark, if ever. I think that’s something the Oilers don’t have on the blueline right now. I do not think he is more than a bottom pair guy; however, I do think he has a home for the future in Edmonton. Additionally, I would look to upgrade that position at the deadline and bring Desharnais back next season. With a cap hit of only $762K, he could play a big role for the team in the 2024 campaign.
How can you not cheer for a guy that was passed up in the draft before going in the seventh round? These kinds of players don’t make the show very often and it’s been a lot of fun watching him try to figure things out.
May 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter on his bench against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
5) Ed asks – Last week, Darryl Sutter had a really surprising response when asked how a rookie played in his first NHL game. “What number was he?” Is this some kind of old school response or what? What is everyone’s opinion on that exchange?
Not a good look for Sutter. He had a much better response the next day, but it seemed he was trying to dunk on the reporter’s question, but it only made him look bad.
I thought it was classless and uncalled for.
I think Sutter was strewing around with the media because he acts like he doesn’t enjoy the attention. However, I don’t think it was fair to do that to the player. It is a big moment for him and his family and it was taken away by Sutter. I am assuming Sutter spoke with him privately about his game and I am sure it was more positive. However, that moment wasn’t about Sutter it was about Jakob Pelletier who was playing in his first NHL game. Jay Woodcroft would never.
I thought it was really odd, to be honest. If he was trying to make a joke he just wound up looking like a dick.
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