Far too long postponed, Oilers prospect Dylan Holloway finally gets a real chance: 9 Things

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The Edmonton Oilers have won thirteen straight games.

And along the way in this record-setting run the club is subsequently sorting out some critical manpower issues.

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Any General Manager will always try to help out a club that has earned it. But ideally, he only has to do one or two things, versus three or four.

That is how it is shaping up for Ken Holland, these days.

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That and more in this edition of…

9 Things

9. Connor McDavid has been named one Captain for the NHL All-Star game. Leon Draisaitl has been named an Assistant.

8. Sam Gagner scored the winning goal on Saturday. He has 5 in 20 games after coming back from major double-hit surgery. I agree with Elliotte Friedman’s comment that Gagner deserves consideration for the Masterton.

7. This, from the Oilers color man Bob Stauffer: The Oilers faceoff percentage was 49.7% prior to that victory over Washington, which marked the start of their eventual turnaround. It is now 52.4%. Some folks do not put much stock in the value of draws. My take? Hockey is a possession game.

6. P.K. Subban made headlines this past week by saying that the Oilers are “too easy to play against in their own zone.” Edmonton did not allow a single shot against Calgary Saturday over the final 8 minutes. P.K. was a uniquely talented guy on the ice. But…how to say, “he doesn’t watch the games” without saying “he doesn’t watch the games.”

5. I was sorry to see Lane Lambert lose his head coaching job with the New York Islanders. I have known Lane since he and my brother played junior on the same line in the 80’s in Swift Current. Lambert is a good man, from a terrific family, and I have no doubt that he will land in his feet. You can only coach the roster you are handed, after all.

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4. D-man Philip Broberg had 3 assists for the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday. By all reports Broberg is playing his best hockey, all the while carrying a heavy load in all situations. Yet where would you put him in Edmonton right now? The 3rd Pairing of Brett Kulak and Vincent Desharnais were terrific on Saturday. Kulak’s 5v5 CF was 79% and Scoring Chances were 8-1. Vinny was at 71%, Scoring Chances were (appropriately) 10-4. And his excellent penalty killing continues.

3. In fact, the entire Edmonton D-corps has solidified. Cody Ceci has 11 points and is +9 so far this season. I occasionally hear how some think the club needs to upgrade in his spot. But I think Ceci is delivering excellent value. He is tied for 321st for the highest paid NHL players. The other D-men who are at or near his $3.2m pay scale: Erik Johnson (3points, +2), Marco Scandella (5 points, +1), Connor Clifton (11 points, +4), Jonas Siegenthaler (8 points, -1), Justin Holl (5 points, +8), Mario Ferraro (14 points, -25) and Carson Soucy (6 points, +9). Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

2. This from the fine Oilers play-by-play man Jack Michaels: G Stuart Skinner took a 16-2 heater into Saturday’s game and elevated it to 17-2. That passes the previous mark set by the great Grant Fuhr in 1985-86. Fuhr also had a franchise record ten straight wins, which Skinner also tied with the victory over Calgary. In his last eight starts Skinner had sported a 1.48 GAA and a .948 SV%. And he allowed only one goal on Saturday. There are numerous factors behind Skinner’s recovery from what was a very uneven start, most of which are due to the young goaltender’s hard work. But do not discount the confidence gained when the club finally came out and said, “job’s yours kid.” Would have the season started differently had Skinner been “the man” in Game 1? We will never know.

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1.Dylan Holloway was very impactful in his return to the National Hockey League on Saturday. He was flying up and down the ice. He set up Connor Brown for a 5-alarm chance with a sublime feed right at the slot. Another terrific set up for Ceci. With two different shooters he may have had two points already by the time he assisted on the Sam Gagner goal. Holloway’s 5v5 CF was 12-8, 60%. He was involved in 3 High Danger Chances For. He was +1. And he did not lose a single faceoff. So, one game into the Dylan Holloway at 4C experiment it looks like a really smart move. And the results beg an obvious question: What took so long?

I was a fan of what Jay Woodcroft brought to the Oilers and I did not think that he deserved to be fired. But the win-loss record was what it was, and you cannot argue with the success that Kris Knoblauch has constructed since. However, the one issue I did consistently have with Jay was how he managed Holloway. To my eyes, Woodcroft rarely gave the kid an inch. Limited ice-time. The bench for seemingly any and all miscues. All that size, speed, skill and grit not being utilized, not being put in a position to succeed. It was confounding.

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Now, one game in the books (small sample warning), Dylan Holloway is making it look like the Edmonton Oilers may not have to spend on a 4C after all. The final result of course remains to be see.

But considering the value of the venture in terms of asset management alone, would it not have been a worthwhile investment all along? Surely.

Now on Threads @kleavins. Also, find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins, Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, and Mastodon at [email protected]

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