Dylan Holloway got a hint of life in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Now he’s hoping for a lot more.
“Once you get a little taste, you just want the whole thing now,” the 21-year-old forward said during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in September. “I’d say I’m really motivated to try and crack the lineup this year and then help the Oilers for a long playoff run.”
Holloway has done his best during training camp to show he belongs in Edmonton this season. He had a hat trick and an assist in a 7-2 preseason win against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, and leads the Oilers in goals (four), points (six) and shots on goal (15) in four preseason games.
“He’s got the raw materials of an NHL hockey player,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said Monday. “He’s big (6-foot-1, 203 pounds), he’s strong. He has a real good skill set in that he’s a powerful skater.
“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.”
Video: VAN@EDM: Holloway scored three goals in a 7-2 win
Holloway said he’s much more comfortable now than he was last season, when he was inserted into the lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Final in place of forward Evander Kane, who had been suspended for a hit on Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri in Game 3.
Holloway played seven shifts totaling 3:27 of ice time and was on the ice for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins‘ second-period goal that gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead. But he didn’t play in the third period or overtime of Edmonton’s 6-5 season-ending loss.
“The energy in the rink was insane,” Holloway said. “Rogers Place was absolutely electric. The whole city of Edmonton was electric. … Before the game in warmup and off-ice warmup I was doing my rituals and stuff, feeling good, not really too nervous on ice. On ice I felt unreal, I was buzzing around, legs felt good. I had no bucket on, I was feeling myself a little bit, had the flow going. I was like, ‘This is sick.’ It was unbelievable. Go out for the (national) anthem, all good.
“And then as soon as my name got called to go on the ice [during the game], I stepped on and it almost felt like I could feel the whole rink on top of me. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is insane.’ And the puck dropped, I was so nervous my first shift I think I toe-picked. But it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun and I was just really thankful to be part of it.”
Now he’s taking the steps to remain a big part of it.
“At the end of the day, you’re taking somebody’s job so it’s a very competitive atmosphere and you’ve got to be ready for it,” Holloway said. “It’s not easy. They’re not just going to give you a spot. You’ve got to go out there and earn it. That was a big thing that I was thinking about all summer.”
His process has earned him some big opportunities during camp. He played on a line with Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman on Monday, and also has played on a line with Kane.
“He’s got a really good shot, quick hands,” Kane said. “I think he’s a guy that has a lot of confidence and that’s a good thing. You have to have that confidence as a young player to be effective in this league. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to be effective.
“Just continue to have that confidence and belief in himself, which I don’t think he needs a lot of help with. That’s a good thing. I’m expecting really good things from him this year.”
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