I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to look at a player from NCAA College Hockey, but well, here we are!
Dylan Holloway is a Canadian center who committed to Wisconsin after a dominant 2018-19 in the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League). His play translated fairly smoothly to Big Ten hockey in the NCAA, well, as smoothly as you would expect of a freshman. His scoring wasn’t particularly eye-opening, but he grades out very well by the eye test.
Holloway’s game is that a prototypical two-way style that combines smart defensive awareness with a direct offensive style that can be effective, but doesn’t quite scream “NHL playmaker”. That doesn’t mean he isn’t skilled. The reality is quite contrary, and playing on a team that also features Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte may dip one’s point totals, admittedly.
Let’s take a closer look:
What do the stats say?
Holloway scored 88 points in 53 games with the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL in 2018-19, prompting a lot of attention to be pointed his way. That does tend to happen when you’re second in the league in scoring after all! He followed his efforts in 2019-20 with 17 points (8 goals) in 35 games for Wisconsin.
He also featured for Canada in 2018-19’s U-18 World Junior Championships (not the U-20 variant we all think of that is often simply referred to as the World Juniors). He scored four points in seven games, which is not bad at all for often stacked Canada rosters.
Again, for such a highly touted prospect you’d like to see an increased point production in the NCAA, but he was featuring on a team with two heavy point producers so he was never going to eclipse them, as they get more ice time and are more experienced. We’ll have to wait and see what Holloway does in 2020-21, but I think I’m fairly confident enough to say that he can do better than that. He certainly has the skill and offensive tools to do it.
Wisconsin cuts the Michigan lead in half. It's Dylan Holloway, who beats Strauss Mann blocker side to make it a 2-1 game. Give helpers to Linus Weissbach and Cole Caufield. #Badgers #GoHabsGo #Sabres50 pic.twitter.com/XbO0f00KNa— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) December 1, 2019
The Eye Test
As I mentioned in the opening, Holloway’s offensive game is less about finesse and more about being direct. He can make passes and sees the ice well, and is certainly capable of setting up teammates, but his default is to find whatever way possible to get to the net. That can be frustrating when there is an open play, but it also leads to Holloway seeing a lot of chances. On top of that, he can make a lot of these chances for himself due to his skill and skating ability.
Holloway can make plays at a fairly high speed and just go straight through defenders. He has the hands and puck control to match, and in regards to his skating, he isn’t a burner but shows tremendous stride and energy. This lends itself well to his direct style, as he is difficult to stop when he gets going, and isn’t afraid to be physical and muscle his way through checks. At 6’1”, and around 200 lbs, Holloway has a good frame, meaning he has both the willingness and stature to play physically. I wouldn’t call him a “power forward” but Holloway is tough on the puck and likes to get his nose dirty in the corners.
Scouts have knocked Holloway for his directness in play at times, and have cited that they want to see more playmaking at a high level from Holloway. I’m not sure if he’s ever going to be that great of a playmaker in the NHL, but I think he can be an effective offensive piece regardless. He certainly shows enough skill to merit that.
Holloway is also fairly responsible defensively and while he doesn’t profile as a “shutdown” two-way center, his game is undoubtedly 200 feet. He has good positioning and will never have a problem with the pace of play to get in position. I think that really plays to his strengths, that he’s a fantastic skater who shows good fundamentals and an upside potential to become better offensively.
In the end, Holloway is a center, but he would fit a different mould of prospect than the likes of Morgan Frost. Holloway could be a smart pick if he develops his offensive game further, though obviously that is a big question mark. I wouldn’t be upset if the Flyers picked Holloway, though he would be a bit of a project.