Coming up instead of season previews for each individual players, we’ll be looking at current Predators entering the final year of their contract. We’ll discuss their future, and what they will have to do to remain wearing the fangs.
Patrick Callahan O’Reilly. (That’s a seriously Irish name.) Last year, Cal started the season like a player who was sick and tired of playing in the NHL. He came in to camp on a purpose, and it showed the first quarter of the season. Up until the second week of December, he could be considered the Preds’ best forward. Then, his game hit the wall. Then, his skate hit the wall.
Watching O’Reilly play is a bit different. You get the feeling he may be one of the smartest players on the team, and he’s pretty creative in tight spaces. His pass to Colin Wilson against the Red Wings is sufficient evidence for this claim.
Folks who followed the Admirals will say he’s got some top six potential. I see that as well, but he’s not the sniper type the Preds have always needed. He’s a dangler, and a playmaker. He does possess a decent wrister, and does have a notion for scoring.
With that said, we’ve said that comment the last few years (minus the whole season ending injury thing). Given this is another one year deal for Cal, 2011-12 could be his make or break year in Nashville.
Under the Trotz regime, a 20 goal scorer should be regarded like a 30 goal scorer in other systems. The contracts for Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist are evidence of that claim. Scoring, and being a liability on defense will never fly under Coach Trotz (hence no desire to lure Alex Semin to Nashville). O’Reilly is decent on defense, but not the lockdown defender Fisher or Legwand can be. At times his talents warrant a stint on the top line, and he seemed to have good chemistry with Colin Wilson. Wilson only played better when he was with Legwand and Marek Svatos. Wilson is a player that also packs a mean wrister in his arsenal, and can create some space on his own. Paired with O’Reilly, Willy could have a 20-25 goal year.
As far as what I would expect from Patrick Callahan O’Reilly this year, I would ask him to at least put up 55 points this year. His output in Milwaukee was over a point a game, and least year he was just under half a point per game in the big league. Asking him to average just over half a point a game is not asking too much. Especially looking at this year’s forwards he could be paired with Wilson or Geoffrion, both physical players with an emphasis on offense. (I wouldn’t mind seeing him center a line with both of them, and roll that as a 4th line playing over 10 minutes a game).
What say you, what are your REASONABLE expectations for Patrick Callahan O’Reilly?