6:50pm: NHL insider John Shannon reports that Holloway’s contract will begin in 2021-22, so even if his thumb does heal in time, he won’t be playing for the Oilers until next season.
4:05pm: One of the most impressive players in college hockey has decided that two years is enough. Dylan Holloway has turned pro and signed his entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. It is not immediately clear whether the contract is for this season or next. Since he turns 20 in late September, Holloway’s three-year deal will not be eligible to slide, meaning if it is for 2020-21, the first year will be burned no matter where or how many games he plays this spring. Alternatively, if it begins in 2021-22 he would not be eligible to play for the Oilers this season, though could still join the Bakersfield Condors on an amateur tryout. The young forward is currently dealing with a broken thumb suffered at the end of his college season, so he can’t play for either of them at the moment.
Holloway, 19, was the 14th overall pick in the 2020 draft and exploded at the University of Wisconsin, registering 11 goals and 35 points in 23 games. He was named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for his performance, though teammate Cole Caufield would eventually take home the trophy. Caufield also got the better of Holloway at the World Junior tournament, where the latter’s Team Canada finished with a silver medal.
If you hadn’t already started to respect the AJHL as a breeding ground for top NHL prospects from Cale Makar’s emergence, Holloway might be able to change your mind. The Alberta native decided not to play in the WHL to maintain his NCAA eligibility and scored 40 goals and 88 points for the Okotoks Oilers in 2018-19, earning AJHL MVP honors. He also was part of the Canadian contingent that won gold at the Hlinka-Gretzky in 2018, playing on a powerhouse squad with the likes of Alexis Lafreniere, Bowen Byram, and Dylan Cozens.
Because he turned 18 just a few days after the cutoff for the 2019 draft, Holloway is a more advanced player than some of his 2020 contemporaries. That is only magnified by the fact he has already played two years of NCAA hockey, developing from a talented but inconsistent freshman to a dominant sophomore. His puck protection skills have hit a new level and he was one of the most reliable two-way players on a strong Wisconsin roster.
There’s a real chance that Holloway could grab a spot on the Oilers roster right now if healthy, but at very worst he’ll be in the mix for a full-time spot in 2021-22.