When the Colorado Avalanche took center Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, it created a logjam up the middle. The Avalanche’s new head coach, Patrick Roy, quickly revealed that he would address that issue by shifting Ryan O’Reilly from center to the left wing.
O’Reilly knows that change is something he’ll need to get used to, but he thinks he’ll make the adjustment.
“I’m excited about it,” O’Reilly said, according to the Denver Post. “I’m looking at it as a good new challenge for me. I mean, I’ll be playing with two great players (Matt Duchene at center and P.A. Parenteau at right wing).
“I’ve played on the wing before, with Canada in the World Championships (skating with Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal) so I’m not totally unfamiliar with it.”
O’Reilly wasn’t caught off guard by Roy’s decision either. He knew the Avalanche would need to make an adjustment after drafting MacKinnon. It also probably helps that he thinks highly of Roy.
“He’s all about winning,” O’Reilly said. “I’ve talked with him and I came away feeling really good. He brings so much passion to the game. It can’t help but rub off on you.”
O’Reilly missed part of the 2013 campaign because he was holding out as a restricted free agent. In the end, he had six goals and 20 points in 29 games.