Mr. Consistency for Nashville Predators: Ryan O’Reilly Hits 1,000 Games

Oct 31, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Nashville Predators forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) prepares for a face off against the Nashville Predators in the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Nashville Predators forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) prepares for a face off against the Nashville Predators in the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are coming off a 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks to start a five-game road trip. While it is a game that they are likely wanting to put behind them pretty quick, seeing as how they had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, there was one positive that came out of the night.

One of the new additions to the Predators roster over the offseason, Ryan O’Reilly, reached a milestone of 1,000 regular season games played in the NHL.

Hopefully, at the conclusion of this road trip, there will be more positives for the Predators other than just individual milestones, but for now, I am going to focus on O’Reilly and his path that brought him to the team that calls Smashville home.

Before the Nashville Predators for O’Reilly

O’Reilly was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche during the 2009 NHL Draft. The Avalanche drafted him 33rd overall in the second round.

Starting in the NHL at the age of 18, O’Reilly had a respectable rookie season playing in 81 games for the Avalanche and posting 26 points. As it should be expected, that season, the Ontario native posted the lowest face off win percentage of his career, 47.8%, which is still the only season where he has had a percentage lower than 50%.

Little did anyone know that this young Canadian would turn into one of the most consistent, most relied upon face off experts in the NHL.

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Prior to making his arrival to the Nashville Predators, O’Reilly played for the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Toronto Maple Leafs, in addition to the Avalanche.

If you take away the 2012-13 and 2022-23 seasons where O’Reilly missed a combined 82 games, O’Reilly has only missed 38 games over the course of the other 13 season he has been an NHL player.

By far the best season of his career was the 2018-19 season as a member of the St. Louis Blues. That year, O’Reilly skated in all 82 regular season games and 26 playoff games in route to becoming a Stanley Cup Champion, Conn Smythe Trophy, and Frank J. Selke Trophy winner.

Overall, before coming to the Nashville Predators, O’Reilly skated in 991 games, had 256 goals, 446 assists, and only 152 penalty minutes.

O’Reilly Joins the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators knew exactly what they were doing on July 1, 2023 when they signed O’Reilly to a four-year/$18 million contract.

They have long needed a strong center that would be an anchor for this Predators offense. O’Reilly is that anchor.

Now granted, the Predators have had Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, and others that were decent, but none of them have had the same level of consistency and defensive ability of O’Reilly. Receiving votes for the Selke Trophy, the trophy given to the best defensive forward in the league, 12 times in his 15-year NHL career is a testament to this.

O’Reilly has dressed in all nine games for the Predators this season and has four goals, three assist over that time.

What is even more impressive is his face off numbers. Taking 18,687 faceoffs over the course of his career, including 176 already this season, all while boasting a career 55.8% success rate in the faceoff circle is phenomenal.

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Playing on the Nashville Predators power play and playing shorthanded, there is not a situation where the coaching staff does not have the trust in O’Reilly to perform at his peak ability.

The only area that O’Reilly needs to improve on is his faceoff win percentage when on the penalty kill. Only having a 27.3%-win rate in that situation is one that needs improvement. Winning the faceoff while on the kill is important to be able to gain possession and clear the puck down the ice.

With the Nashville Predators having O’Reilly signed for the next three seasons after this, he is going to be relied upon heavily to be a veteran presence while this team is getting younger players acclimated to the level of play in the NHL and hopefully be one of the reasons that the Nashville Predators bring home the Stanley Cup that has eluded them for 24 years.

Congratulations to Ryan O’Reilly in reaching this milestone! Being only the second player from the 2009 NHL Draft Class to do so and earning his name on a list that only a few hundred players are part of is pretty remarkable.