25-Year-Old Center – Buffalo Sabres
Ryan O'Reilly Contract Information:
Signed a seven-year, $52.5 million extension with the Sabres in July 2015. The contract will expire at the end of the 2022-23 season.
O'Reilly finished as the team's leading point getter in his first season with Buffalo.
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Ryan O'Reilly: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The steal of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (33rd overall), O'Reilly exploded for career highs in nearly every offensive category in 2013-14, including goals (28, a team high), power-play goals (nine), game-winning goals (six), shots on goal (201) and shooting percentage (13.9). One of the game’s premier two-way forwards, O’Reilly also led the league in takeaways with 83, which is somewhat surprising since he skated to a mediocre minus-1. With one of the more explosive top-six forward corps in hockey, the 23-year-old will almost certainly spend more time on the wing again this season -- away from his natural position at center -- to likely line up alongside either of the team’s superstars, Matt Duchene or Nathan MacKinnon. However, the exact configuration of the team's top-two lines isn't yet clear, especially with the loss of veteran playmaking center Paul Stastny to the Blues in free agency, and the addition of Jarome Iginla on the wing. Most importantly, make sure you’re mindful of the gentlemanly O’Reilly’s lack of value in the PIM department, as the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner only spent two minutes in the sin bin, which came on a freak “broken stick” minor 71 games into the season when he unknowingly played the puck with an illegal twig. The Clinton, Ontario native should again land near the 64 points he tallied last season, as long as the absence of Stastny doesn’t impact his game too much and he can stay healthy in 2014-15.
After ending his holdout last season, O'Reilly provided an offensive spark for the Avalanche, scoring 20 points in 29 games. The two-way forward will move to left wing this upcoming season and join Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau on the Avs' top line. We will see how O'Reilly can adjust to a new position, but this cerebral forward will see plenty of ice time and has the opportunity to deliver like a true number one left winger.
O’Reilly had an outstanding season in 2011-12, a year in which he finally came into his own as a top-six player following two seasons playing a checking-line role. With 55 points in 81 games, he led the Avs in scoring and more than doubled his output from his first two seasons. He also continued to show a solid knack for the defensive side of the game, leading the entire NHL in takeaways with 101. Still unsigned as of early August, it’s expected the Avs will bring O’Reilly back next year and give him every chance to build upon last season’s stellar effort.
O'Reilly took some big steps forward last season, even though he scored the same amount of points (26) as he did in his rookie year. For example, his goal total went from eight to 13, and he spent much more time in a top-six capacity, filling in for the likes of injured teammates Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. O'Reilly will likely start this season back on the Avs' third line, but last year gave us a glimpse of what he can do when put into a scoring role. Keep him on your list of possible waiver-wire acquisitions as the season progresses, especially if the Avs run into injury trouble again.
O'Reilly had a very successful season as an 18-year old rookie, considering he was not expected to crack the Avs' roster for another season or two. Instead, he stuck with the team right out of training camp and went on to score 26 points in 81 games skating mostly on the team's third line. With Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene expected to continue centering the top two lines, O'Reilly should fill a similar role to last year's. His fantasy value is limited to deeper leagues right now, but make no mistake - this kid's a scorer and has plenty of offensive upside, so keep an eye on him.