Holloway aims to prove himself worthy of making the NHL roster with the Oilers

Dylan Holloway got a hint of NHL life with the Edmonton Oilers during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Now he hopes for much 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 would say I’m really motivated to try to crack the lineup this year and then help the Oilers make a long playoff run.”

Holloway did his best during training camp to show that 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) through four preseason games.

“He’s got the makings of an NHL hockey player,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said Monday. “He’s big (6-foot-1, 203 pounds), he’s strong. He’s got a really good knack for being a strong skater.

“The more Dylan plays at this level the more comfortable he gets and the more he shows his teammates and coaching staff where he’s at.”

Video: [email protected]: Holloway hits three goals in 7-2 win

Holloway said he’s much more comfortable now than he was last season, when he entered the lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at forward. Evander Kanewho had been suspended for hitting the center of the Colorado Avalanche Nazem Kadri in game 3.

Holloway played seven shifts totaling 3:27 of ice time and was on the ice for Ryan Nugent-HopkinsThe second period goal 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 crazy,” Holloway said. “Rogers Place was absolutely electric. The whole city of Edmonton was electric… Before the game in warm-ups and off-ice warm-ups, doing my rituals and stuff, I felt good, not too nervous on the ice. On the ice it felt unreal , I was buzzing around, my legs felt good. I didn’t have a bucket, I was feeling a little bit myself, I was in the flow. It was incredible, come out for the (national) anthem, it’s all good.

“And then my name was just called to go on the ice [during the game], I stepped and almost felt like I could feel the entire rink on top of me. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’ And the puck fell, I was so nervous on my first shift that I think I picked it. But it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun and I was really grateful to be a part of it.”

Now she’s taking 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 have to be ready for that,” 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’s been a big thing I’ve been thinking about all summer.”

His process has earned him some big opportunities during camp. Play in line with Leon Draisaitl and Zac Hyman on Monday, and has also played on a line with Kane.

“He’s got a really good shot, quick hands,” Kane said. “I think he’s a guy who 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.
“He’s just continued to have that confidence and belief in himself that I don’t think he needs a lot of help with. That’s good. I expect really good things from him this year.”

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