Red Wings Prospect Ryan O’Reilly is Developing at an Impressive Rate

Detroit Red Wings prospect Ryan O’Reilly has a chance to do some special things.

O’Reilly, not to be confused with the St. Louis Blues superstar with the same name, is a sophomore at Arizona State University, and is starting to get noticed. O’Reilly, 21, a Southlake, Texas native, admitted that things were slow at first after he was discharged from an early-season hand operation. However, things are now moving along nicely.

Related: Arizona State Coyotes Prospect Josh Doan Brings a Winning Mindset to Arizona

Once he got his conditioning back things really started to click, and as the season has worn on, one thing has become particularly clear: He’s only scratching the surface of his potential, and the best is yet to come.

Late Start, Continuous Growth

O’Reilly’s season started a bit later than everyone else’s after missing the first two weekends of play due to the aforementioned surgery, but he quickly recovered and is back to full speed ahead. In his seven first games of the season O’Reilly recorded one point, an assist. However, he has nine points in his 14 games since, including two games that are multi-point.

The forward, who is 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, continues to improve his game. He has been particularly happy with the progress in 2022.

“For me personally, the start of this New Year has gone really well for, and me and [ASU Coach Greg] Powers have been working on my game, to be well-rounded, be like a big, heavy, power-forward,” O’Reilly said. “I want to make sure I’m hitting the net every time, and just playing responsibly.”

Red Wings prospect Ryan O’Reilly with the Arizona State Sun Devils (Paige Shacklett / Arizona State Sun Devils Athletics)

Greg Powers, Arizona State hockey coach, agreed.

“He gets lots of shots off, he uses his big body, knows how to create space for himself now, and puts himself in a position to get the puck in scoring position; he’s got to hit the net,” Power said. “If he just hits the net, it’s going to go through to the goalie and create rebound opportunities for us. He’s got a chance to be a special player.”

O’Reilly has been focused on increasing his on-ice stature, especially given the big frame he already has. He’s admittedly been working hard in the weight room, as well as working with the ASU coaching staff to help become even a more imposing force in games.

Powers stated that the talented sophomore has a very high ceiling and has greatly improved his two-way game since arriving in Tempe.

“He has an NHL body and NHL release, you saw his burst of speed, and you saw when he uses it and beats people wide, how effective he is,” Powers said. “He’s really bought into the D side of the puck right now.”

The Road to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft

O’Reilly was drafted by the Red Wings 98th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft after spending parts of four seasons in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Madison Capitols, Fargo Force, and Green Bay Gamblers. In his last year in the USHL with the Gamblers in 2019-20, he was an alternate Captain and racked up 32 points (17 goals, 16 assists) in 43 games.

He also had similar numbers in 2017-18 with the Capitols, scoring 34 points in 45 games.

All this led to 2018’s draft day. when O’Reilly was selected by DetroitThis was a moment that he shared with his family. COVID-19 has severely curtailed the opportunities for development camp, and his participation at NCAA hockey has limited his ability participate in training camp, due to eligibility implications.

“I’ve been in close contact with [the Red Wings] for the past couple of years,” he said. “I think after this season they’ll have another development camp where everyone will be able to get out, so that will be nice to get out there.”

His numbers this season are rapidly approaching his freshman campaign with Sun Devils, when he scored 13 points in 23 games. He has five NCAA career-best goals, which is a testament to how he can adapt to new levels of competition.

Ryan O'Reilly Arizona State Sun Devils
Detroit Red Wings prospect Ryan O’Reilly aims to become a leader at Arizona State. (Paige Shacklett / Arizona State Sun Devils Athletics)

All of this makes for a lot excitement as he looks into the future at Arizona State.

“His game has evolved immensely this year,” Powers said. “If he keeps trending in this direction and paying attention to detail, and all the little habits that make players good, he has an opportunity to come back next year and absolutely explode.”

O’Reilly’s Future is Bright, Looks For Next Step

For now, the NHL remains a long-term goal for Detroit’s prospect, but as Powers indicated, he has a very high ceiling, and will continue to hone his skills at the NCAA level before taking the next step in his development.

Though they’re still in the midst of their current season, the Sun Devils will need a number of players to lean on next year, and O’Reilly is destined to be one of them. This is especially true in the wake of Oceanside Arena being sold by the team. New on-campus facility that’s expected to be completed in time for the start of next season.

That alone has given the team’s returning players a lot to look forward to.

“It’s nice to come here and be a grandfather of [Oceanside Arena], close it out, and open up a new building that’s right on campus,” O’Reilly said. “We drive past it every day coming to this rink, and it looks unreal, so you’re kind of eager to get to the new place.”

The new home will afford the opportunity for an all-new core and set of leaders, and that’s something that the Detroit prospect is ready to embrace with open arms.

“I think next year is going to be a really good season for me,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of guys leaving, and we will need guys to step up, and especially with me being a junior next year, it’s going to be me.

“Next year’s going to be a big step for me.”

But it could be the beginning of a budding career in hockey.