Canada’s Dylan Holloway (20) battles against Sweden’s Alexander Lundqvist (5) during first period Hlinka Gretzky Cup gold medal game action in Edmonton on Saturday, August 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Edmonton Oilers select centre Dylan Holloway in first round of NHL draft

Edmonton Oilers selected the centre from Bragg Creek, Alta., with the 14th pick of the NHL entry draft

Dylan Holloway is willing to switch allegiances to play alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The Edmonton Oilers selected the centre from Bragg Creek, Alta., with the 14th pick of the NHL entry draft Tuesday.

Holloway was a Calgary Flames fan growing up in southern Alberta. He played minor hockey in that city.

“Growing up I did cheer for the Flames,” Holloway said Tuesday evening on a conference call.

“Definitely not any more. I know my family aren’t Flames fans anymore.”

The prospect of playing alongside twenty-something NHL stars McDavid and Draisaitl makes that transition easy for the six-foot, 203-pound forward.

McDavid, 23, was the third-youngest player to win the Hart Trophy in 2017. Draisaitl, 24, earned the NHL’s MVP trophy this season.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” Holloway said. “The past couple years I’ve been watching them really closely.

“Edmonton has been one of my favourite teams to watch because of them. The fact I could be teammates with them one day is pretty special.”

NHL Central Scouting ranked him 12th among North American skaters heading into the draft.

Highly-ranked defencemen were available for Oilers general manager Ken Holland at No. 14, but Edmonton chose blue-liners with the eighth and 10th picks in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

“The plan was to pick a forward,” the GM said. “It’s a deep draft this year for forwards.”

The Oilers announced Monday that McDavid had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing “mild symptoms.”

“I exchanged texts with Connor,” Holland said Tuesday. “He told me he’s feeling fine.

“I know a couple other people here did talk to him this morning. He told those people the same thing. He’s doing good.”

Holloway had eight goals and nine assists in 35 games in his freshman season for the University of Wisconsin.

He played under Badgers head coach Tony Granato, who was an assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings when Holland was the GM there.

Prior to joining the Badgers, Holloway led the Alberta Junior Hockey League in scoring with 40 goals and had 48 assists in 53 games for Okotoks Oilers in 2018-19.

“Tony spoke very highly of his character and his work ethic,” Holland said.

“He can really skate. He’s a big man. He led the Alberta Tier 2 league in scoring as a 17-year-old. Not many 17-year-olds do that.”

“He’s versatile. He can play left-wing, he can play centre.

“We think there’s more offence there than he showed as a freshman, when you look to what he accomplished in Tier 2 as a 17-year-old.”

Holloway acknowledged the adjustment to college hockey took time for him.

“Coming from the AJ to playing NCAA hockey, it’s a difference in pace,” Holloway said.

“Guys are much bigger, stronger and faster. Getting used to that I think was the reason why I wasn’t putting up as many points in junior, but towards the end of the year I started getting more confidence and throwing my body around a little bit better.”

Holloway was in Madison, Wis., on the day of the draft preparing for his sophomore season. The NCAA’s Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday the season will start Nov. 13.

Holloway’s father, Bruce was drafted in the seventh round (136th) by the Vancouver Canucks in 1981. He played two NHL games with the club in 1984-85.

The Canadian Press

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