Rebuilding with Cal O’Reilly

Tim Lucarelli


Cal O'Reilly


Cal O'Reilly's road to the NHL has been nothing short of a struggle. Cal was selected in the fifth round of the 2005 draft after finishing up a strong season with the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL. While Cal posted 73 points in 68 games, the Spitfires most alluring prospect that season was Steve Downie, who posted 73 points of his own in seven fewer games, not to mention the 179 penalty minutes he added. With the focus on Downie, O'Reilly flew well under the radar.


With no international experience and only one strong OHL season under his belt, O'Reilly returned to Windsor the following year, scoring 26 more points (18-81-99) in the same number of games. He graduated on to the AHL that season on a tryout basis, but struggled to adjust, scoring only one point in 10 playoff games.  That summer he would sign his first entry level contract.


In the three years of that contract, Cal would show strong skills in the AHL (213 points in 225 games), but see limited NHL time (five points in 11 games). With that short exposure to the NHL, Cal was smart enough to realize he had the talent to play in the NHL, but would just need the opportunity to stick. Rather than forcing the hand of a GM, Cal signed a very smart contract. He inked a two year contract, negotiated as a two-way deal in the first year and a one-way deal in the second.


Cal would split time in the AHL and NHL during the first year of this contract and find himself with a full time roster spot with Nashville out of camp in 2010-11.  Unlike his brother Ryan, who was selected number 33 overall in the 2009 draft and started playing in the NHL right away, Cal had to be patient but it was finally paying off. Despite being almost five years younger, Ryan has been making a case to be the better fantasy option since 2009. In the short term, Ryan does have bragging rights with not only a quicker road to the NHL, but an extra $300k on his contract. Both Ryan and Cal do share similar attributes though and one of those is a strong work ethic.


Cal has been said to be a leader on and off the ice and in his road to the NHL he would often be the first player on the ice and the last one off. Any success throughout Cal's career has been earned through good old fashioned hard work.  In addition to his work ethic, Cal has a very high hockey IQ. He plays on the power play and penalty kill units and sees the ice extremely well, which explains why he is able to rack up so many assists each season.  Despite having high point totals, Cal has only eclipsed the 20-goal plateau once in his career and it was in his draft year. He's also well-disciplined