Much like the the Leafs’ NHL roster, their prospect pool is built on offensively oriented players and is a bit one-dimensional. The recent addition of Filip Hallander adds a different element to Toronto’s prospect ranks but the Leafs need to continue to diversify their organizational depth chart moving forward.
As we continue TheLeafsNation’s series of profiles on the Leafs’ potential options with the 15th overall pick, today we’ll look at Wisconsin Badgers forward Dylan Holloway. You can check out the previous entries in this series here:
Holloway made the jump from the Alberta Junior Hockey League to the NCAA and played the 2019-2020 season as a true freshman for the Wisconsin Badgers in the competitive Big Ten Conference. Playing mostly with and against older players, he didn’t exactly light up the score sheet but put up a respectable eight goals and nine assists for 17 points across 35 games in his first college season.
There is potential for more offense but Holloway’s value shows up all over the ice, even when his name doesn’t make it onto the score sheet. He’s got a high motor and brings energy with each shift while playing a reliable two-way game. He can line up at center or on the wing and that versatility, along with his two-way presence, allows him to fit into multiple spots in a team’s lineup.
Still just days away from his 19th birthday, Holloway has good size at 6’1″ and 203 lbs. He’s got a long, powerful stride and impressive agility, with above average top speed. He tracks well on the back check and those long strides allow him to make up ground in transition. Watch as chases down the puck carrier through the neutral zone and breaks up the rush before finishing his check on the boards as his team regains posession:
He plays a physical game and uses his strength and quick hands to effectively win board battles. Holloway puts his strong frame and good positioning to use separating players from the puck along the boards and he’ll throw his weight around in the middle of the ice as well.
Holloway is a responsible defender, both in his zone and in transition as he attacks the opposition with good pursuit angles and an active stick. He is not a player that will cheat for offense very often but he works hard to get the puck back and he can make the opposition pay when he does.
Holloway isn’t an elite playmaker – he’s got decent vision but he creates offense with his feet and by wearing down the opposing defenders on the forecheck. He is a good puck carrier, with his powerful stride and quick hands allowing him to create zone entries and generate scoring chances. He likes to use his speed and puck protection ability to push defenders back before finding the trailer or hitting a teammate with a drop pass.
Like Holloway’s game as a whole, his shot isn’t flashy but it is effective. He’s got a decent release but he struggles at times to get into good shooting areas, often settling for low percentage shots from the outside. When he gets the puck on his stick in or around the slot, he has the ability to beat goaltenders cleanly.
He has also found some success with the one timer and could become a more consistent scoring threat if he can make his way into scoring areas more often.
Dylan Holloway doesn’t have any overwhelming high end traits but he doesn’t have any real glaring deficiencies in his game either. He has good size, skates well, works hard, and plays with intelligence in all three zones while being able to chip in on the scoreboard. His versatility, physical edge, and two-way game make him more attractive than some of the other forward options in this range of the draft, especially for a team like Toronto whose pipeline is filled with more offensively minded players.
Successful teams need contributions from all over their lineup, be it on the scoreboard or elsewhere. Holloway is a player that can make an impact for his team even if the pucks aren’t going in because of his work ethic all over the ice. He projects as a reliable and versatile forward who can bounce around the middle six of an NHL lineup and contribute on special teams as well. His offensive game has potential to grow as he gains more experience and confidence at the NCAA level, but he already thinks the game well enough that he can keep up with more offensively gifted players.
Dylan Holloway has the potential to be one of those fan favourite, energizing, glue kind of players that the Leafs have been short on in recent years, and it could prove difficult for Kyle Dubas to pass on him if he’s available when the Leafs step up to the virtual podium with the 15th overall pick in the draft.
(Statistics from eliteprospects.com)