The former 13th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Dylan Holloway, is beginning to showcase that he belongs in the NHL. After getting off to a hot start last preseason, recording a hat trick in the final preseason game, Holloway eventually finished the season in the AHL due to injuries, roster shuffling, and struggling to play up to expectations. However, although he has not recorded anything on the scoresheet, Holloway has continued to elevate his game nightly.
Individual even-strength play (Edmonton forward ranking)
|2022–23||0||0||0||12 (3)||8 (5)||0.0%||61.1 (2)||61.0 (4)||60.5% (2)||73.9% (1)|
Holloway continues to exhibit a solid 200-foot game and is quite noticeable on the ice for all the right reasons, like being the best player on the ice in the season-opener, fully passing the eye test. As previously mentioned, Holloway has yet to record a goal or assist but has effectively contributed to plays without the puck as he ranks third among Edmonton forwards in hits and fifth in shots. A statistic that should positively regress to finishing more opportunities as he currently retains the fourth-lowest “puck-luck” (PDO of .909) of all Edmonton players.
The underlying metrics strongly argue for Holloway to be moved up in the lineup as part of the replacement plan for the unfortunate Connor McDavid injury. Although Dylan is one of the youngest Edmonton players (22 years old), his traits to provide offense is fully evident in puck possession (C%), shot quality (XG%), scoring chances (SC%), and high-danger chances (HDC%). In limited ice time, Holloway currently ranks very highly among the qualitative categories:
- Second in puck possession
- Fourth in shot quality control
- Second in scoring chances
- First in high danger chances
These relative rates showcase that he possesses the skill to be a dominant force when elevated to play with more elite talent. In the limited even-strength sample size, Holloway may not have the highest quantity of totals, but he thrives in making his own end a priority, illustrated by each of these categories entailing quantity and quality of chances against in the calculation of each statistic.
Linemates even-strength play (ranking)
|Holloway-McLeod-Brown||58.8% (4)||71.2% (3)||–||53.9% (7)||80.0% (3)|
|Foegele-McLeod-Holloway||67.7% (5)||70.2% (4)||–||79.0% (2)||90.9% (1)|
Holloway has mostly appeared in Edmonton’s top nine, outside of one game sample where he was surprisingly demoted to the fourth line against the Winnipeg Jets as Coach Jay Woodcroft went to the line blender to spark the offence. With Ryan McLeod the fixture as his center, Holloway has encountered a rotation of wingers, though most of his ice time has come with either Connor Brown or Warren Foegele on the opposing side, strong, tenacious play drivers in their own right.
A small sample size five games into the season, with five minutes played together used as a benchmark, illustrates Holloway’s continued evolution and hopeful promotion to the top six in McDavid’s absence. Due to the limited time played, 10 line combinations meet the criteria for evaluation. Among these ten sets of players, Holloway’s play contributes to each one of his lines finishing in the top ranking of each echelon. Within the following categories, Holloway’s lines rate:
- 4 and 5 in puck possession
- 3 and 4 in shot quality control
- 2 and 7 in scoring chance totals
- 1 and 3 in high-danger chances
These relative qualitative metrics illustrate Holloway is more than finding his footing in the NHL and becoming an offensive force while limiting opposition opportunities. His hard-nose play and physical force in the offensive end is a perfect complement to the finishing traits of Edmonton snipers such as Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Players who can do damage with the puck in spacious areas granted to them by the play of Holloway, who opens gaps in the defence with his size and speed; play that is continuously illustrated when watching the Mcleod-Holloway tandem.
This is not to say Holloway does not possess the talent to find the back of the net, as he scored seven goals in 12 games with Bakersfield last season and 19 in 58 games with Wisconsin at the college level. Additionally, Holloway recorded 24 assists in 23 games in his final season at Wisconsin, revealing his strong offensive sense and playmaking, a trait developed from playing with Cole Caufield, a strong goal scorer in his own right.
His ranking by C%, XG%, and HDC% all showcase he controls play by taking a large volume of high-quality shots, leading to scoring chances. His defensive play is also underrated, as is his care with the puck, as he only has one giveaway with the puck while recording three takeaways (tied for fourth among all Edmonton players)
Holloway can be effective higher up in the lineup
Overall, Holloway possesses the tools to make him an effective top-six forward who can provide valuable contributions in McDavid’s absence and possibly continue to do so upon his return. Whether that promotion places him alongside the likes of Draisaitl or Nugent-Hopkins, a return to McLeod’s wing in the meantime will help lengthen out Edmoton’s lineup at the very least as his current pace of play is being wasted on the fourth line.
Holloway’s strong play certainly sustains an argument for him to be higher in the lineup over Mattias Janmark, though Woodcroft has shown in the past to lean on veterans in desperate or worrisome times. Although Holloway has impressed fans with his play, his toughest task will be convincing management and coaching that he has earned a top-six role.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire