Where Could Dylan Holloway fit in the Oilers lineup?

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
25 days ago
For years the Oilers gifted players ice time, simply because they didn’t have enough good players. It resulted in the Oilers being perennial losers.
Today, there is healthy competition for not only ice time, but being one of the 12 forwards in the lineup, and, not surprisingly, the Oilers are very competitive team because of it.
Dylan Holloway was recalled from Bakersfield on Tuesday and made his presence known last night with a solid performance on a line with Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry. Holloway scored a goal, outshot Vegas 8-2 at 5×5, was tied for the team lead with three hits, and finished +3 in 12:40 of ice time. Prior to Holloway’s arrival the Oilers really only had internal competition for the fourth line. Sam Carrick, Derek Ryan and Connor Brown have been healthy scratches. Evander Kane got one night off as well, but for the most part there hasn’t been much competition for a spot in the top nine.
That could change with Holloway being recalled.
I don’t see him taking Mattias Janmark’s spot on the fourth line. Kris Knoblauch loves how responsible and reliable Janmark is. He also uses him regularly on the penalty kill, and you could argue they should use him more. (More on that later).
Janmark doesn’t provide a lot of offence. However, he doesn’t give up much defensively and that’s why I don’t see Holloway taking his spot. For Holloway to be effective he needs to be in the top nine. He won’t be used on the penalty kill in the playoffs, and he won’t be on the power play, so he would need to be in the top-nine to get regular 5×5 minutes. Playing him on the fourth line with no PK time would lead to him playing seven or eight minutes. And he’d likely accomplish very little. Very few players can impact that game with such limited minutes.
Janmark’s numbers the past 10 games have been excellent. So have Connor Brown’s.
They rank first and second in SF% in that span. The Oilers have outshot the opposition 43-24 with Brown on the ice and 45-27 with Janmark. Derek Ryan (25-16) and Sam Carrick (23-17) have split time as their centreman. Brown has a xGF% of 64.3%, Ryan is at 63.55, Janmark has 56.7% and Carrick is at 54.7%. Janmark has outscored the opposition 4-2, Ryan is 3-0, Brown is 3-3 and Carrick is 2-2.
Knoblauch has really liked how they’ve played, regardless of who is the centre, and I’d be surprised if he changed that line before the playoffs.


Apr 10, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Dylan Holloway (55) during the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place.
Knoblauch told me he views Holloway as a top-nine forward. Next season I expect he will kill penalties from the start of the season, but no sane coach would put a young player on the PK in the playoffs, when he hasn’t done it all season. It isn’t putting him in a position to succeed. In order for Holloway to contribute he needs to be in the top nine like he was last night.
Connor McDavid was out with an injury and that opened up a spot for Holloway. The Oilers didn’t just promote Brown with McDavid out, they wanted Holloway, because if he plays in the playoffs that is where he will slot in. The question then becomes: Who might be in danger of losing their spot to Holloway?
McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are non-starters. I think Ryan McLeod is also not an option. Knoblauch loves his speed at 5×5 and uses him on the power play and penalty kill.
So that leaves Evander Kane, Adam Henrique, Warren Foegele and Corey Perry.
Kane hasn’t had a great season, but he is the Oilers more physical forward, and he still has 23 goals despite a 21-game goalless drought. Kane leads the Oilers with 239 hits, and he is sixth among NHL forwards. I’d be stunned if he isn’t in the lineup to start the playoffs. He brings a physical element they need.
Perry is a right winger and has loads of playoff experience. He’s contributed offensively, physically and as a leader since being signed. I don’t see him losing his spot before the playoffs begin.
Henrique and Foegele each have four goals in the 17 games since Henrique was acquired. Foegele has better underlying numbers (SF%, xGF%), but Henrique has outscored the opposition 9-5 at 5×5, while Foegele is 7-8. Both have been used on the PK, and both have been very good since Henrique arrived. Henrique has averaged the fifth-most PK minutes among forwards and in his 15:13 of PK time he’s only been on for one goal against. Foegele has averaged :42/game and hasn’t been on the ice for one goal against.
I think there is a strong argument to be made that Henrique and Foegele should be used more on the PK. Here are the eight penalty killing forwards the Oilers have used since March 7th.
Knoblauch likes to start Ryan and Nugent-Hopkins because they are both centres who shoot left and right. It guarantees he has a face off man on his strong side to start the penalty kill. However, that duo has struggled for quite a while. The problem is Carrick is the only other right-shot centre, and when he’s played with RNH the results are pretty much the same as when RNH plays with Ryan. Not good.
Foegele has been consistent all season, and I see zero reason to take him out of the lineup to start the playoffs. Henrique can play wing or centre, he’s chipped in four goals in 17 games, and he’s outscored the opposition 9-5 at 5×5 and been solid on the PK when used. His underlying numbers at 5×5, haven’t been great, but in the playoffs GF-GA is much more important than possession. The series are shorter and if you get outshot, but don’t give up quality chances and find ways to score that matters more.
Holloway was very impressive last night. He did exactly what the coach told him to do: use his speed. He was energetic from his opening shift right to the end of the game. He looked much more controlled and confident than when we last saw him in early March. His used his time in Bakersfield to become a better player, and in turn he looked more confident.
“Definitely there was some emotion when I got sent down,” said Holloway. “I tried to use it as an opportunity to focus on my game and work on the little things they wanted me to work on.”
I asked Holloway what were those little things he worked on.
“The big thing was defensive play,” he said. “Just being reliable in the D zone. And another big thing was puck protection. Sometimes when I get the puck in the corners, I try to face the guy and expose the puck a bit, but the big thing was to use my body as a shield and hold onto pucks longer. I think it helped me develop a little bit. Just playing in all opportunities, playing lots of minutes every night. It was big for me, big to get a lot of touches and my confidence up. I’m feeling pretty good.”
Holloway made an impact last night. He got the coach’s attention, and that’s all he can do. “We have a lot of good players, and competition is a good thing,” said Knoblauch when asked about adding Holloway to the roster. Holloway’s focus is to garner enough attention, so his name comes up in the coach’s office when discussing their playoff lineup.
If he continues to play like he did last night, the conversations will become longer and more difficult. And that’s what you want if you’re Knoblauch.
Healthy competition is what championship teams need.
Who would you take out to play Holloway in the playoffs? Or do you think Knoblauch sticks with his regular top-nine forwards to start?


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