It is no secret that the Edmonton Oilers view Dylan Holloway as a major piece of their future and with the club losing bodies upfront at an alarming rate, the need for a skilled winger has become painfully obvious. With the opportunity to give him his first taste of the NHL at hand, Ken Holland and company have instead decided to go in a different direction and recall veteran Brad Malone.
With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto picking up injuries over the weekend (though the latter could be back in short order) the Oilers have become paper-thin upfront. If not for the suddenly red-hot Derek Ryan, the only forwards currently putting pucks in the net are Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Connor McDavid. In other words, a jolt of energy to the lineup would be a welcome addition.
All due respect to Malone, he is not that guy and while Ryan McLeod is playing well and Tyler Benson may actually be given more of a look, the addition of player like Holloway seems like a no-brainer. His speed, physicality and offensive skill-set makes perfect sense in a bottom-six role or maybe even a short-term plug and play fit inside the top six, with one of you know who.
As of this moment, McDavid and Hyman are anchoring the top line, with Warren Foegele filing in for Jesse Puljujarvi until he gets healthy. Whereas the second line has become a bit of a dog’s breakfast. Evander Kane is playing a lot but accomplishing not much of anything of late and considering Colton Sceviour was Draisaitl’s other winger against the Carolina Hurricanes, there is a spot that needs filling.
As of this moment, either Ryan or possibly Benson get a shot inside the top-six until Yamamoto returns, leaving the other to play on a third line with McLeod and Holloway. In my mind, this set-up gives Jay Woodcroft the most flexibility to work with and that should be priority one. Recycling through the likes of Devin Shore, Brendan Perlini, Sceviour and most likely Malone, isn’t the answer.
With games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens next on the Oilers dance card, this might just be the ideal spot to insert Holloway. After getting off to quick start with the Bakersfield Condors, the kid went a little cold for a bit but has started to heat up again. With 10 points in 16 games and 40 shots on net, he seems to be adjusting nicely to the pro game.
Yes, the plan was always for him to get a bit more seasoning before being called up but make no mistake, that call was coming. Let’s not forget, had Holloway not been forced to get a second surgery on his wrist, there was a real chance he would’ve started the season with the Oilers or been the guy in the AHL waiting for an injury to get his shot. Well, circumstance suggests now would be as good a time as any.
For me, the organization’s decision to bring Malone back into the mix was a puzzling one but it’s hardly a surprising one. We can’t ignore the fact Holland is a general manager who loves to have prospects “over percolate” but at some point, a little bit of urgency would be nice. There is absolutely no harm in giving a kid a look when there is a need and yet, we are still in wait and see mode.
Something else to keep in mind, Oilers NOW host and radio colour-analyst Bob Stauffer has mentioned on numerous occasions the players are extremely high on Holloway and believe he’ll be a player. Like it or not but that stuff matters and it’s not something guys typically say about a 20 year-old with minimal viewings. Also, if Stauffer is willingly sharing said info, there is a reason for it.
Again, situation and circumstance matter and with this group playing arguably its best all-around hockey of the season, helping them along should override all else. The want to always inject older players into the lineup is all well and good but for the betterment of the collective, icing the best team possible has to supersede that organizational want.