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Oilers’ Dylan Holloway is starting to look like the top-six player the team needed

Oilers celebrate Dylan Holloway goal
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
28 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers forced a Game 7 with a big 5-1 over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Edmonton scored five even-strength goals, including a spectacular individual effort on the opening goal by Dylan Holloway, where he blew past three Canucks and beat Arturs Silovs, bringing the crowd at Rogers Place to their feet.
If the Oilers can beat the Canucks in Game 7, his goal will become more meaningful and it may be remembered as one of those magical Oilers’ playoff moments. Yet, judging by the way he’s played since being given an opportunity to showcase his skills in the top six since Game 4, that tally was the beginning of many Holloway highlight-reel goals.
The 22-year-old deserves some kudos because, in almost a month and a half, he’s worked his way up tremendously from the AHL, to the Oilers’ fourth line and right into a prominent spot on the second line, where he’s starting to look very comfortable in his top six role alongside Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane.

Holloway Was Doing All the Right Things Before Scoring His Big Game 6 Goal

Before netting his crucial goal in Game 6, it was evident that Holloway was bringing his A-game to the top six table.
After the Oilers lost Game 3, where they loaded up the top line of Connor McDavid, Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman and fell behind 2-1 in the series, Kris Knoblauch made the bold decision to elevate Holloway to the top six for a lengthy stay for the first time in these playoffs for Game 4. It was well-deserved, considering he scored two big 5v5 goals in the opening round against the Los Angeles Kings.
By all accounts, Holloway looked confident early in Game 4 and made nice plays to get the puck in the hands of Draisaitl, which were signs that the game was slowing down for him. In one shift in the second period, he kept the puck in the offensive zone twice using his speed, tipped a point shot and made confident moves to get the puck back into the hands of his superstar centerman. He didn’t register any points that night, but the confidence was evident, especially on a two-on-one chance with Kane—he didn’t force a pass and patiently waited to take the puck hard to the net.
Additionally, one significant detail that may have gone unnoticed is that on Evan Bouchard’s game-winning goal with 38 seconds left on the clock, despite not being credited with a point on the play, Holloway contributed to it by finding open space to present himself as a shooting threat, which lured Nikita Zadorov to him, thereby opening the lane for the puck to be passed to Bouchard.
Many Oilers struggled in Game 5, but Holloway was once again effective in his top-six role. His line scored a goal when Kane buried one early off a Draisaitl pass. Once again, he wasn’t credited with a point on the play, but what started the play was Holloway breaking up the Canucks’ potential attack at center ice, and the young Oiler carried the puck into the zone for the play to develop. Moreover, he made excellent defensive efforts that game, including breaking up passes in the slot and blocking two big point shots.
Fast forward to Game 6 and Holloway was finally rewarded for his hard work. He received a pass from Draisaitl, zipped past notable players in Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek and scored a wonderful tally that electrified Rogers Place.

Holloway’s Had Some Interesting Encounters With Canucks in His Young Career

Holloway will likely forever remember his huge Game 6 goal against the Canucks and interestingly in his very short NHL career, he’s had some intriguing moments against them.
Dating back to 2022, Holloway was the talk of the preseason when he scored a hat trick against the Canucks on Oct. 3, 2022, and due to his offensive output, he earned his very first shot in the top six alongside Draisaitl to start the 2022-23 campaign.
Coincidentally, the Oilers opened that season against Vancouver on Oct. 12, 2022, and Holloway had his first ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment on his first shift, just two minutes into the game. He received the puck in the defensive zone and tried to thread a pass to Draisaitl, but instead, put it right on Pettersson’s tape, who then buried it.
Holloway was promptly removed from the top six after that error, signalling the beginning of a period of ups and downs for the young forward. He dealt with injuries, went back and forth from the NHL to minors, battled for playing time and just recently received an extended opportunity again in the top six.
Fast forward almost 20 months later, and he went from coughing up the puck to Pettersson in the first game of the season in 2022 to zipping past him and scoring a big Game 6 goal, likely the biggest tally of his young career, in an elimination game in the playoffs. Hockey sure has some interesting turns, doesn’t it?

Adding Holloway to Oilers’ Top Six Forms a Fast, Big and Physical Line

Holloway is blessed with size and speed, but it now appears he’s processing the game very well, and his elevated play makes the second line stronger, potentially turning the top six into a constant scoring threat, which bodes very well for the Oilers in Game 7.
The second line of Holloway, Draisaitl and Kane has produced 4GF and only 1GA at 5v5 in the three games they’ve played together. They offer a different dynamic than the first line, as they’re not only fast but also big and physical, with Kane (41 hits) and Holloway (32 hits) being the team’s top players in hits in the playoffs.
No matter what happens in these playoffs, despite being a small sample size of only three games, one takeaway will be Holloway’s growth in showing he can excel in the top six, and this line might even be a fixture beyond the postseason. That said, the young Oiler shared his insights about the support he received from his linemate in his bumpy journey, saying after Game 6:
“If you told me when I got sent down I’d be where I am right now, I wouldn’t really believe you. Kaner’s been great to me. He just told me to keep my head up high, learn as much as I can, and he said he’ll see me soon. In a sense, I guess he was right and it’s pretty cool playing on his line with him and Leo.”
Before the start of the series against the Canucks, I mentioned that a confident Holloway would be an X-factor in the second-round series. While he may not have accomplished enough on the scoresheet to be given that title, one thing’s for sure, he’s emerged as a difference-maker, something the Oilers desperately needed.
With that in mind, what are your thoughts on Holloway since he’s been promoted to the top six?

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