Ok, so the drop off of interest between Sam Gagner to Ryan O'Reilly is kinda steep but just bear with me as I take a closer look at him and perhaps he may be a player who you should keep in mind in future drafts.
He was selected by the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League in 2007 and actually put up a pretty solid tally of 19 goals and 52 points with a -18 in 62 games during his rookie campaign and was even nominated for the Bobby Smith Trophy (Scholastic Player of the Year). During the 2008-09 season, he returned to the Erie Otters and actually improved his overall game by contributing more points and assists (66, 50 respectively) and improving his +/- to a not too shabby +1. He went to the NHL draft in 2009 and had a pretty good combine and was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2nd round, 33rd pick overall.
We'll take a look at his present and outlook after the break...
The Avs had put a good investment in O'Reilly and shocked everyone when he was a part of the first regular season game and became the youngest player in Avs history to play the first regular season game. During his rookie season in the NHL, he did a decent job on the score sheet with 8 goals and 26 points, he had a +4 rating and was playing about 16 minutes of ice time per game but spent almost 3 minutes of ice time per game on the penalty kill, which led the Avs in penalty kill ice time. The Avs clearly saw his talent in seeing the ice and watching how the game was played and took full advantage with the time he was on the ice. 2010-11 saw some improvements in his game with 13 goals and 26 points in only 74 games that season but he also came down to a -7 rating. He was playing an average 16 minutes of ice time again and played almost 2 and half minutes of penalty killing time on the ice per game. The 2011-12 campaign marked a change in the Avs plan for O'Reilly and so far this season he has responded well by having a career season. They bumped up his ice time to an average of over 19 minutes per game. Instead of him playing on the penalty kill, they moved him to the power play and he has so far averaged almost 2 and a half minutes of ice time per game. He has contributed 15 goals and 41 points (4 goals and 10 assists in power play) in 56 games so far this season.
Calm down for a second. I am not saying you should go out a pick him up unless you're in deeper or keeper leagues. He just turned 21 years old so he's still got some growing pains to go through but it's very encouraging that he's responded well to the Avs trust in his play. He's got a great all-around game and will contribute across the board but he is better at setting up plays so he will have a good helping of assists. With the Center position the deepest position in Fantasy Hockey, it's hard to think of why you'd roster him if you're in shallower leagues but his name is something to pocket for the next year or two to see what he can do with the Avs as he continues to grow with the game and develop into a great player.
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