The realization of a dream for Dylan Holloway on Tuesday night also gave the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team a new standard.
Holloway was selected 14th by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the NHL draft held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic and delayed from June because of the late finish to the season.
"It's definitely one of the best days of my life, for sure," Holloway said.
The selection made him a prospect of a team from his home province — Holloway is from the Calgary suburb of Bragg Creek — and one that features two of the last four NHL MVPs in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
No matter that he grew up cheering for the archrival Calgary Flames.
"Not anymore," he said. "My family are no longer Flames fans."
It was the third straight season that a UW player has been selected in the first round, a feat that had never happened before.
Defenseman K'Andre Miller (22nd by the New York Rangers in 2018), center Alex Turcotte (fifth by Los Angeles in 2019) and right wing Cole Caufield (15th by Montreal in 2019) preceded Holloway as first-round selections in the last two years.
Holloway was the 16th Badgers player picked in the first round, a number that trails only five NCAA schools: Michigan (25), Minnesota (21), Boston College (21), Boston University (20) and North Dakota (20).
Holloway's first-year statistics with the Badgers — eight goals and 17 points in 35 games — weren't awe-inspiring but some scouts saw a bigger picture from the second-youngest player in NCAA hockey.
And it started to play out near the end of the season when he grew more comfortable and confident with using his strength, speed and nimble hands against older opponents.
Part of what made Holloway attractive as a prospect, Granato said, was his versatility.
Holloway played more left wing than center as a freshman but Granato plans to flip that this season with UW needing more of a presence down the middle.
With 2020 MVP Draisaitl, 2017 MVP McDavid and 2011 No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the Oilers depth chart at center, Holloway's pro future probably is on the wing.
Being mentioned with those players Tuesday night was "pretty surreal," he said.
"Growing up, I was watching guys like Nugent-Hopkins and just recently have been watching Leon Draisaitl and McDavid tear up the league," Holloway said. "To think that maybe I could be teammates with them one day is pretty cool and definitely something I'll cherish forever."
NHL Central Scouting listed his league comparable player as former Michigan standout Dylan Larkin, the No. 15 overall pick in 2014 who has scored 106 goals in five seasons with Detroit.
Holloway has tried to model his game after Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, who has combined an offensive flair with a physical approach. Landeskog has been among the Avalanche's penalty minute leaders because of that style, and so was Holloway in his freshman year at UW.
At some point, Holloway will get to chart his own course in the pros but on Tuesday, he joined his father as an NHL draft pick. Bruce Holloway was a seventh-round pick of Vancouver in 1981 and played two games with the Canucks during a brief pro career.
"He's definitely been a big part of my development throughout the years," Dylan Holloway said last week. "He's always giving me little tips and stuff and helping me out on our outdoor rink when I was a kid. He's definitely been a big influence and helped me a lot."
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