Dylan Holloway played just four minutes and thirty-five seconds in Thursday night’s fast-paced game against the New Jersey Devils.
It was an eventful few shifts for the rookie. Holloway’s turnover at centre ice led to a New Jersey goal in the first period but he redeemed himself in the second frame by making a nice pass off the boards to Tyson Barrie that led to the Oilers’ second goal of the game.
Mistakes are going to happen as young players acclimate themselves to the NHL game, that’s just part of the development process. Few in their right mind are going to suggest that Holloway’s turnover warrants a send-down to the minors on its own, but there’s reason to wonder if the first-round pick from the 2020 draft would benefit from playing more minutes for the Bakersfield Condors.
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Here’s Holloway’s playing time game-by-game so far this season…
  • Oct. 12 win vs. Canucks – 8:06
  • Oct. 15 loss vs. Flames – 8:25
  • Oct. 18 loss vs. Sabres – 3:47
  • Oct. 20 win vs. Hurricanes – Injured
  • Oct. 22 loss vs. Blues – Injured
  • Oct. 24 win vs. Penguins – Injured
  • Oct. 26 win vs. Blues – Injured
  • Oct. 27 win vs. Blackhawks – 8:07
  • Oct. 29 win vs. Flames – 5:29
  • Nov. 1 win vs. Predators – 10:53
  • Nov. 3 loss vs. Devils – 4:35
The 4:35 against the Devils was the least that Holloway has played in a game this season other than the loss to the Sabres in which he left the game early in the second period following a huge hit from rugged Buffalo defender Ilya Lyubushkin. Otherwise, he’s largely been hovering around eight-ish minutes per game playing alongside Derek Ryan and Devin Shore on the team’s fourth line.
The Holloway, Ryan, and Shore trio have been effective as Edmonton’s fourth line. They’ve outscored their opponents 2-to-1 at even strength so far and they’re even at 8-to-8 in terms of scoring chances. Those are quality results for a fourth line and Holloway’s speed and skill is helping that group push things in the right direction.
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If the Oilers are going to send Holloway to the AHL, it’ll be for him to get more playing time, not because he’s hurting the team’s chances at winning games. The question now is whether playing more minutes against lesser competition is better for his development than playing more sparingly in the big leagues.
The argument in favour of sending Holloway to Bakersfield is that young players should prove themselves at the AHL level before they’re given rope at the NHL level. Holloway played 33 regular-season and five playoff games for the Condors last season. He did very well considering he missed the first half of the season recovering from wrist surgery but that isn’t a big body of work and there are still surely things he can learn by playing at that level.
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The argument in favour of keeping Holloway in Edmonton is that there’s no better place to learn how to play against NHL competition than the NHL. Holloway is playing in a positive environment on a winning team with a coach who’s oriented towards teaching and developing players. Going down to a level where Holloway could dominate the competition with his skill might not help him learn the lessons he needs to learn to be an effective NHLer.
What say you, Nation? Could Holloway use some more time in the AHL? Or is he best off learning the NHL game by playing a fourth-line role with the Oilers? Let us know!