Ryan O’Reilly (born February 7, 1991) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre currently playing with the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League. Ryan’s older brother, Cal, plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.
O’Reilly grew up playing hockey near his hometown of Varna, Ontario with the Seaforth Stars of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. He then moved up to the AAA level playing for the Huron-Perth Lakers of the Minor Hockey Alliance through his bantam-aged year in 2005–06. Touted as one of the most talented prospects to come out from the Lakers, O’Reilly then played one year of minor midget hockey with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in 2006–07.
Ryan started playing Junior for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League after he was the recipient of the Jack Ferguson Award as the first overall selection in the 2007 OHL draft. In his rookie season in 2007–08, O’Reilly put up a solid 52 points in 61 games and was named the Otters Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player while also earning Erie’s nomination for the Bobby Smith Trophy. In the following year, Ryan backed up his rookie year with 50 assists and 66 points in 68 games for the 2008–09 season, and his allround game was noticed when he was named the Western Conference best Penalty Killer.
O’Reilly was drafted 33rd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. O’Reilly became the youngest player in Avalanche history to appear in a regular season game when he surprisingly made the opening night roster for the 2009–10 season. Ryan earned his first NHL point in his Avalanche debut on October 1, 2009 against theSan Jose Sharks, becoming the first non-first round draft pick to immediately make the NHL in his post-draft year sincePatrice Bergeron in 2003–04. He scored his first NHL goal, a game winner, on October 15, 2009 against Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. On October 19, 2009, following his strong play, the Avalanche announced that O’Reilly and his fellow 2009 draftee Matt Duchene would spend the entire season with the Avalanche. Initially leading all rookie forwards in scoring through October, O’Reilly recorded an assist in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on October 24, to cap a 7 game point streak, that stood as the longest by a rookie throughout the season.
Suffering an offensive plateau midway through the season, O’Reilly anchored his position as a top defensive forward and penalty killer. He led the Avalanche in ice time on the penalty kill culminating in posting two short-handed goals during a double minor penalty against the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 2, 2010, to become the first Avalanche player in history to achieve two shorthanded goals in a game. Ryan finished his rookie season with the Avs, scoring 26 points (8g/18a) in 81 regular season games before making his post-season debut in a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 14. On April 18, 2010, he scored his first career playoff goal, posting the game winning tally in Colorado’s Game 3 1-0 overtime victory over San Jose. He was credited with the goal after inadvertently deflecting Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle’s pass attempt from an improbable angle into the net past Evgeni Nabokov to put the Avalanche ahead in the series 2-1.
O’Reilly’s 11-2012 campaign saw a remarkable increase in his offensive production. He more than doubled his points output for his previous two seasons combined with 18 goals and 55 points, leading the team in scoring.
O’Reilly made his international debut at the 2008 World U-17 Hockey Challenge scoring 6 points in 6 games as captain of gold winning Team Ontario. As an underage 17 year old, O’Reilly gained selection to Team Canada the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia. He scored 5 points in 4 games as and was named game MVP in the final against Russia as he helped Canada capture the Gold Medal for the fourth time in five years.
The following year Ryan was selected as captain of Team Canada, at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships. In 6 games he contributed with 5 points before finishing in fourth place after losing 5-4 in the bronze medal game against Finland.