Lowetide: How Dylan Holloway's playoff performance impacts his Oilers future (2024)

From the fall of 2006 through the arrival of Ken Holland as general manager in the spring of 2019, the Edmonton Oilers led the league every year in teenage rookies.

Holland’s arrival signalled a new way of introducing Oilers prospects into the NHL.

The transition was a major adjustment for fans of the team.


Imagine driving on the fastest freeway imaginable every day for 13 years, then pulling off onto a gravel road to continue the journey.

That’s how slow it felt when watching Evan Bouchard’s development timeline. He was part of the Peter Chiarelli era, and in fact, played NHL games just a few months after he was drafted in the summer of 2018.

Holland arrived and slowed the process down. The numbers suggested Bouchard was NHL-ready at 20 but he wouldn’t emerge as an NHL regular until the fall of 2021, when he was 22.

Bouchard has since blossomed into one of the best impact puck movers on defence in the league, leaving observers to ponder the idea that Holland’s slow, incremental steps were a reason for success.

That’s a stretch, but in the case of emerging forward Dylan Holloway there were reasons to send him back to the AHL time and again.

He has emerged as a top-six winger on the second line with Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane during this spring’s playoffs.

The Holland manual, which involved using most or all of the entry-level deal to learn in the minors, has paid off in the case of Holloway.

He appears ready to take on a feature role with Edmonton.

The question is, where?

Offence finally arrives

At each stop along his development, Holloway increased his offence in the second year at a specific level. He erupted into an impact player in the AJHL at 17, in the Big Ten at 19 and in the AHL at 21.

He played a lot in the NHL at 21, but didn’t deliver much offensively in 2022-23. His production was bottom-six in nature, and typical of a fourth-line performer for the Oilers.

He ran in place during his second NHL season, although he did spike in goals per 60 in the 2023-24 regular season. The playoffs this year saw the Holloway spike.










2023-24 Playoffs




All numbers five-on-five

The playoff totals are in a small sample, but he’s earning minutes on a line with Draisaitl and Kane. That’s confirmation of scoring ability, there’s no way coach Kris Knoblauch would keep him in the role if Holloway stopped producing.

How much offence he’ll deliver, and how long he’ll hold the job are questions without answers. More time on the No. 2 line will be required to tell the tale.


We can say that the increased offence has arrived, although it was delayed until the postseason.

Flair for the dramatic

There’s also evidence he is fast, skilled and creative enough to deliver some offence on his own.

He scored a stunning goal to open Edmonton’s 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on May 18. It involved using speed through the neutral zone, winding his way through a caravan of Canucks on the way to the Vancouver net, and cashing on a gorgeous deke before sending the puck past the goalie.

It was the prettiest goal scored by the Oilers all spring.

Second-line winger or third-line centre

Holloway has had some success playing centre for the Oilers this season. His faceoff percentage (small sample, just 67 total) was 57 percent this season, and was effective in a very small sample with wingers Sam Gagner and Connor Brown.

His most successful regular season line was Holloway on the wing with Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry. In 74 minutes, the trio outscored opponents 5-4 and owned an expected goal share of 51 percent.

Currently, he’s with Draisaitl and Kane. In 39 playoff minutes, the line has outscored opponents 4-1 with an expected goal share of 53 percent, via Natural Stat Trick.

That’s a minute sample and regression should be expected, but Holloway won the job on the No. 2 line over more veteran talent and (so far) has been able to hold on to it.

A good problem to have

Holland’s contract expires at the end of this season, with the identity of Edmonton’s next general manager unknown at this time.

We do know that Holloway can play left wing on a skill line or a depth trio, and has enough ability to move to centre.

It isn’t known if he could fill the No. 3 role in the middle, but the organization may feel he could eventually fill that vital spot in the lineup.

His utility is important for several reasons.


First, with Warren Foegele approaching free agency, Holloway offers the organization a plug-and-play replacement at several million dollars less per year.

Foegele’s deal, which expires at the end of this season, pays him $2.75 million, while Holloway’s base salary is $925,000 with bonuses running the total to (potentially) just past $1.4 million.

Both men will be looking for raises in salary, but Foegele is unrestricted and Holloway is under control (restricted free agent).

Management could save $2 million or more, depending on the market, by replacing Foegele with Holloway.

Another area he could fill is centre.

McLeod has struggled this spring, and despite being a fast pivot and an astute two-way type, has come under fire for lack of physical presence.

Holloway plays a more rambunctious style that fits the current playoff atmosphere naturally.

It would be unwise for the Oilers to walk a quality young centre like McLeod, but Holloway is available should that become a priority.

That’s the way it goes

In one of life’s ironies, the man who was in charge of Edmonton’s draft when Holloway was chosen in 2020 (first round, No. 14) is no longer in the organization.

Tyler Wright was Edmonton’s amateur scouting director at the time and took some criticism for shy offensive totals for a fairly high pick.

Those worries still remain, but have eased over the late portion of the regular season and into the playoffs.

There was never a question about Holloway’s athleticism, hockey ability or speed. If the offence lands, the organization may have a player who covers the bet, plus a little more.

Bottom line

Holloway is rocking a 67 percent goal share at five-on-five during this year’s playoffs, and has scored 3-1-4 (all at five-on-five) over 12 games.

His future role with the team may be unclear, but his strong play this spring guarantees he’ll get plenty of chances to establish himself in a feature role this fall.

In fact, he’s already there.

(Photo: Bob Frid / USA Today)

Lowetide: How Dylan Holloway's playoff performance impacts his Oilers future (1)Lowetide: How Dylan Holloway's playoff performance impacts his Oilers future (2)

Allan Mitchell is a contributor to The Athletic's Oilers coverage. Veteran radio broadcast. His blog, Lowetide, has chronicled the team since 2005. Follow Allan on Twitter @Lowetide

Lowetide: How Dylan Holloway's playoff performance impacts his Oilers future (2024)
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