Even before training camp began, we were told by general manager Ken Holland that defenceman Philip Broberg and forward Dylan Holloway were on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of earning a roster spot with the Edmonton Oilers.
Holland said Broberg, 21, a big, smooth defenceman who got into 24 games with the Oilers last season, would have to play himself off the roster at camp. On the flip side, Holland told us that Holloway, who is also 21 and got into a single playoff game last spring, would have to play his way onto the team. 
Here we are six games into the pre-season, down to the short strokes of picking the team, and it’s obvious Holloway has taken the challenge to heart after he scored three goals as part of a four-point night in a 7-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. As auditions in the top six go – Holloway played with Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman – they don’t get much better than this.
Advertisement
Ad
As The Champ would say, is four goals and two assists playing your way onto the team enough for you? My eyes emphatically tell me yes with no spreadsheet required — with the caveat that making the team at camp doesn’t guarantee a roster spot the entire season. That’s not my call or yours, though. That falls to Holland and coach Jay Woodcroft.

WHAT THEY SAY

Oct 3, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenceman Noah Juulsen (47) skates past as Oilers winger Dylan Holloway (55) celebrates a goal with Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl (29) as the Vancouver Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
“He had a heck of a game,” Woodcroft said. “I thought that line with Draisaitl and Hyman and Dylan, they were the best line on the ice. They controlled the puck. They didn’t give up a ton against . . . that was a good game for Dylan. He’s got to feel good about it.”
We know by now, and it should go without saying, that a short burst like this by any player, let alone one as young as Holloway, against less-than-full NHL rosters, guarantees nothing in terms of results down the road. We’ve seen that play out a time or two over the years. That said, Holloway has done exactly what Holland said he had to do, even if that has Jesse Puljujarvi fans wondering what that means for their man.
Advertisement
Ad
“I think the more Dylan plays at this level the more he feels comfortable and the more he shows his teammates and his coaching staff where he’s at,” Woodcroft said. To hear his linemates tell it, they like where Holloway is at right now.
“In these games, real games, you see a guy’s hockey sense. The way he reads the play, right?” Draisaitl said. “That’s what is important. It seems to be there.” 
Then there’s Hyman, who moved to the right side so Holloway could play the left. “He’s driven,” Hyman said. “He’s determined. He’s a guy who was drafted early, but aside from skill, he works like he wants to get the puck back. I think that’s what makes him the most effective. And then, obviously, he has elite speed, skill, poise. He’s just a kid who’s really driven and wants to make a team that’s hard to make.”
Advertisement
Ad

THE BOTTOM LINE

Holloway, healthy again after wrist surgery, is smart enough to know there’s more work to do. I have him on the team now, but Woodcroft might want another look Wednesday in Abbotsford against the Canucks. Friday’s game at home against Seattle will essentially be a preview of Woodcroft’s regular season line-up.
“It felt really good,” Holloway said. “Kind of one of those nights where everything seems to go right. I owe a lot to my linemates. Two pretty good players there in Leon and Hyms.
“The competition is going to pick up. It gets tighter out there . . . going into camp, I just wanted to play well. I just wanted to play my game. I knew I was going to have to do something to make the team. I’m happy with the way things are going but we have two more games coming up.”
Advertisement
Ad

#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

Previously by Robin Brownlee