Monday Mailbag – Why doesn’t Dylan Holloway get more minutes with the Oilers?

4 months ago
Happy Monday, Internet friends, and welcome to another brand new Mailbag to help get your week started and keep you updated on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re discussing Dylan Holloway’s minutes, Calvin Pickard’s workload, a busy March schedule, and more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk , and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Feb 28, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) scores the game wining goal during overtime against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1. Yves asks – Busy schedule in March. How many wins do the Oilers have to get in the 15 games they play to deem it a successful month?
Jason Gregor:
Winning nine of 15 would be a success as that would be a 49-win pace over a full season. They have eight road games and seven at home. They play four top-10 teams, six games v. bottom-10 and five games v. middle tier teams. They have three sets of back-to-back and will play a third game in four nights four times. It is a challenging schedule, but nine wins looks very doable. I won’t be surprised if they win 10.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I see six “softer” spots on the schedule. So if you can take care of business there and go .500 the rest of the way, winning 10 games doesn’t seem like a stretch. I’ll say they go 9-5-1 to be a hair more realistic.
I can see the Oilers winning nine or 10 games this month. I think playing more often serves this team well, and when they get in a rhythm, they’re very hard to beat.
Feb 21, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) makes a save on on Boston Bruins forward James van Riemsdyk (21) during overtime at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2. David O. – Does the Oilers success really boil down to as simply: Give up less than three goals and you’re an elite Cup favourite, give up 3+ and you’re a mediocre wildcard team? Under that lens, why are we spending any time talking about adding a top 6 winger instead of having our sole focus on defence or maybe a goalie?
Jason Gregor:
In 45 games under Knoblauch the Oilers have allowed 2.67 goals against/game, which is 5th lowest in NHL. They lead the league in goals for/game at 3.76. You can argue a good offence is the best defence, because you are spending less time defending. Edmonton has five legit top-six forwards, so adding one makes sense. They will add a veteran, depth defender, but with Tanev off the market, I don’t see a proven, top-four defender available. I don’t view Sean Walker as that player. Some might, I don’t.
As for a goalie, who is available? Jake Allen. The last time he allowed two goals or less was December 18th. I understand Montreal isn’t as good, but he has the lowest Sv% and highest GAA among the three Montreal goalies. And even if MTL eats 50% he would still be a $1.925m cap hit. And he has another year on his deal.
Under Knoblauch Skinner has the most wins in the NHL at 26. His .915Sv% is third among goalies on teams currently in a playoff spot behind Hellebuyck and Bobrovsky. His 2.42 GAA is 4th among playoff starters. Skinner has been just fine and I don’t see a backup available who is a guaranteed upgrade worth giving up assets for at this point. They’d be better off looking at a depth, veteran defender, upgrading their 4th line or swinging big on a top-six forward.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
When Stuart Skinner is on his game, he is the kind of goalie that can keep them in that first range that you mentioned. I do think they need an upgrade on the blueline, but the market isn’t very strong this year so it’s easier said than done. I think they need to add two forwards and a defenseman of some capacity. This isn’t a situation where they can only go out and address one area of their roster. When it comes to the goalie side, if it’s a relatively cheap add then I’m all for it. I just wouldn’t spend big assets there.
I don’t think this is unique to the Oilers. I think teams that allow fewer goals have a better chance to win, but I also think that the NHL season is a slog and there are always ebbs and flows as the season rolls along. When Stuart Skinner is on top of his game, the Oilers are very tough to beat, but there are going to be times when that confidence comes and goes. That’s sports, baby.
Nov 2, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Dylan Holloway (55) tries to carry the puck around Dallas Stars defensemen Miro Heiskanen (4) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3. Bryce asks – Why do you think Dylan Holloway doesn’t get more minutes than the 11:02 he’s averaging this season?
Jason Gregor:
He isn’t on either special teams unit at the moment. They’d like to work him in on the PK, but that hasn’t happened yet and might not until next year.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I have no idea. The organization should give him a solid run on a skill line just to simply figure out what they have in the player. He looked good next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and maybe if they gave him five games there, the production would start to come. If Holloway could be a productive top-nine winger for them, it would change their deadline plans. They just don’t seem to want to give him the requisite opportunity.
I think it’s because Holloway is still learning the craft at the NHL level, and it’s going to take a minute for him to get to spot where the coaches trust him in more situations. I also don’t think he’s doing himself any favours by only having three goals on the year because if he was scoring more he’d play more. Chicken and egg, I know.
Jan 13, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) and teammate goalie Calvin Pickard (30) celebrate the win against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
4. Brenden asks – How many games are you playing Calvin Pickard this month and who are his most likely opponents if you’re making the call?
Jason Gregor:
He should start five or six games this month. He will start three of the back-to-back games, which leaves only two or three starts. I had him starting six this month to keep Skinner on pace for 57. As for opponent, the coach doesn’t go off that solely. He looks at practice time, how well Skinner is playing etc. Your back up has to face a good team now and then to see how he does.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I would give him the Columbus game, the Montreal game, and the Anaheim game. On top of that, he should start half of every back-to-back, so add on another three games there for a total of six starts out of the 15 games.
He’ll play in the three back-to-back weekends for sure, and I can see him getting another game or two sprinkled in there as well. My bet is on 5-6 games this month.
Feb 26, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5. Brian in Victoria asks – I have seen them all: Bower, Hall, Sawchuck, Gump, the Cat, Brodeur, etc. Why do the goalies continually go down on their knees when players like Leon or Ovi are in their “offices” on the power play? These guys are so good they can pinpoint their shots over the goalie’s shoulder, but if they were standing up, it would be no goal. Why can’t the coaches see this and fix it?
Jason Gregor:
Playing percentages. The butterfly was invented because it took away more of the net. And it isn’t just an easy fix to tell a goalie to be a stand up goalie, when they’ve been a butterfly goalie their entire life. Also, if Ovechkin is wiring a one-timer, the goalie can’t wait to see if the puck is low or high before he reacts. He commits to his move before or else he will get beat. I’m not a goalie expert, far from it, but I’ve spoke to Kevin Woodley for five years and he has outlined, in much better detail than I am here, why it isn’t as simple as saying just stand up.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I get your line of thinking, but there’s a reason every goalie in the NHL has been playing the butterfly style for basically two decades. I’m not going to say that every goalie coach in the league is teaching guys poor technique.
I think it’s because the Butterfly covers up more of the net, generally speaking. If guys were standing upright like they used to back in the day, players like Leon and Ovi would be firing more pucks through at their feet. Players adapt, and I think that’s what we’re seeing here.


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