Previously on T25U25:
25 - Vili Saarijiarvi
Today we continue our look at the Red Wings’ top 25 under 25 series recently kicked off with a guy that I’m almost positive ended up ranked on this reader poll because of name recognition.
Ryan O’Reilly - RW
Drafted: 4th round (98th overall) - 2018
O’Reilly is committed to the University of Denver and intends to eventually play there, so the fact that he hasn’t signed an entry-level deal with the Wings yet is not a concern. The kid from Southlake, Texas grew up a Stars fan but does have Michigan ties, as his family did move him to Michigan for a year in his youth to play with the Little Caesars Bantam Minor AAA club.
O’Reilly is a big kid at 6”3, 205 and he plays a big kid game. He’s a volume shooter and has good balance on his skates. He’s got a nose for the front of the net and even taking into consideration the size thing, he’s not easy to move off the puck.
Ryan O'Reilly scores on a feed from Ben Meyers and it's 3-2 Sioux Falls with 6:59 left in the second. 2:41 left on the Force PP. pic.twitter.com/l1WUKhgT5G— Fargo Force (@FargoForce) October 7, 2018
As always with big guys, the question is “can he skate?” For what it’s worth, his speed seems to need work, but he is known for good balance and agility. The biggest questions we’ve seen on him so far seem to be centered around his playmaking and fitting into the system (I guess you could say his hockey IQ?).
O’Reilly struggled in the USHL last season, going from 34 points in 45 games during his draft year to 31 points in 57 games with the two teams he played for combined. However, he did finish the season stronger after being traded from the Fargo Force to the Green Bay Gamblers; he notched 11 points in his final 16 games of the season.
O’Reilly is still committed to Denver, but will spend his sophomore year continuing to play and develop in the USHL before going the college route. .
A fourth round pick with plenty to work on. Ryan O’Reilly has the size and potential to grow even more, but he’s got to put together the actual hockey-playing part of his game if he’s going to crack an NHL lineup someday. For some, the task is as simple as navigating a Tim Horton’s drive-thru.