Welcome to “get to know your Avs”! This feature will take a look at current Avalanche players (and maybe some staff, too) to give you an idea as to just who these guys are and what they mean to the Avalanche.
Yes, some (or most) of you will already know these guys but don’t be party poopers; nobody likes party poopers.
Today, we look at someone who’s had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with the Avalanche front office, who was supposedly uneasy with Matt Duchene, and who was almost stolen away by the Calgary Flames – Ryan O’Reilly.
Who: Ryan O’Reilly
How He Came to Denver: 33rd overall pick, 2009 NHL Draft
What he’s done: Taken in the same draft that produced Duchene, O’Reilly became the youngest player in Avalanche history to appear in a regular season game, making his debut on October 1st, 2009. He established himself as a solid defensive forward and penalty killer throughout his rookie season, even when his scoring hit a plateau midway through the season. He would finish with just eight goals and 26 points for his rookie year but made his impact away from the score sheet.
After becoming one of the Avs true shutdown players in year two, he had his offensive outburst in year three. In addition to setting an Avalanche record for takeaways (101), he hit new career-highs in goals (18), assists (37), and points (55) while playing with top pick Gabriel Landeskog.
This led to the showdown between he and Avalanche management last season. The two sides couldn’t agree to a new contract before the Flames stepped in with an offer sheet on the restricted free agent. The Avalanche quickly matched and O’Reilly went on to have a solid, albeit short, season with 20 points in 29 games.
What he means to the team currently: O’Reilly became the shutdown defensive center for the Avalanche and, of late, has really developed his offensive game. With the selection of Nathan MacKinnon, there was a glut at center between him, MacKinnon, Duchene, and Paul Stastny, so O’Reilly will make the move to left wing this season, probably playing with Duchene. And don’t worry – they’re fine. No beef.
He should remain a premier defensive player for the team and, playing with Duchene and PA Parenteau, should see his offensive numbers continue to pick up. He’s developing, Duchene is growing into a star, and Parenteau is a solid winger; good things should happen.
In addition to all of that, O’Reilly is recognized as one of the young leaders on the Avalanche. Landeskog took over captain duties almost immediately upon his arrival but O’Reilly remains well-liked in the dressing room and will be counted on to be one of the leaders on the young Avs.
What to expect: O’Reilly started to come into his own the last few seasons. He had his offensive outburst in year three, argued with management a bunch, then incrementally increased his points-per-game in year four.
Hovering around .68 PPG, he now gets to play wing to Duchene, a burgeoning superstar at center. Expect his PPG to jump up; not to the lauded point-per-game level but he could conceivably hit .80-.85 and continue to deliver his trademark shutdown defensive play.
One thing to consider with ROR: his style of play and his size. He’s not terribly big (6’0” 200) and he likes to play a fairly physical game. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him miss some time, even if it’s just 5-10 games.
Look for O’Reilly to play around 75 games, scoring 23-25 goals and 60-65 points while being the defensive conscience of his line.
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