A dream has become reality for Bragg Creek hockey player Dylan Holloway after the 19-year-old was selected in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft Oct. 6.
During a draft that was delayed four months and held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Edmonton Oilers selected the six-foot-one, 203-pound forward as the 14th pick.
"Obviously I was super pumped to be selected,” Holloway said during a media Zoom call following his selection. "Sitting there, I was patiently waiting for my name. I knew it's the NHL Draft and anything can happen. My phone actually started blowing up before the pick so that's why my reaction was a little bit late on camera just because I didn't really know until after, but [I’m] super excited for it.”
Holloway said he’s excited about the prospect of potentially lining up alongside Oilers stars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl in the future.
"It's pretty crazy to think about," he said. "I know the past couple years I've been watching them really closely. Edmonton has been one of my favourite teams to watch because of them, so the fact I could be teammates with them one day is pretty special."
Holloway, who plays either centre or left wing, is currently a sophomore player with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, an NCAA Division 1 program. Prior to his move to the collegiate game, he was a standout forward for the Okotoks Oilers junior A team for two seasons. He recorded 51 goals and 115 points in 83 games for the Oilers, and his 88 points during the 2018-19 season temporarily set the team’s single-season scoring record.
His efforts for the Oilers also earned him the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player award in 2019, as well as the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Player of the Year.
The Elite Prospects’ 2020 NHL Draft Guide, which featured more than 1,200 pages of insight, analytics and game reports on more than 400 draft prospects, praised Holloway for his hunger to win the puck back from opponents.
“Holloway consistently applies pressure on the backcheck, pick-pockets puck-carriers, makes timely hits, wields a disruptive stick – you name it,” the guide stated. “He never flees the zone early and is a capable east-west attacker who shields the puck from opposing defenders really well.”
After leaving Okotoks, Holloway registered eight goals and 17 points in his rookie season for the Badgers, as the second-youngest player in NCAA Division 1. He was the first collegiate player to be named in the NHL Draft this year.
“In a league where speed is important, he can really skate, he’s a big man,” said Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland in a post-draft media availability. “I talked to [Wisconsin head coach] Tony Granato this week…and [he] spoke very highly of his character and his work ethic.
“So we’re adding a player that’s got tremendous character, work ethic, he can skate, he’s versatile, he can play left wing, he can play centre, and we think there’s more offence in there than he showed as a freshman when you look to what he accomplished in [junior A] as a 17-year-old.”
In addition to his junior A accolades, Holloway suited up at the international level on multiple occasions. In 2018, he scored two goals and added two assists for the Team Canada U18 team that won the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and he was a member of Canada West at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge the same year. As an 18-year-old, he was one of the final players cut for the Team Canada squad that competed at the 2020 World Juniors.
Holloway is not the first member of his family to be drafted to the NHL. His father Bruce played two games for the Vancouver Canucks in the 1980s, during a professional hockey career that spanned three seasons, most of which was spent with teams in the American Hockey League and now-defunct International Hockey League.