Forward Ryan O’Reilly helps the Colorado Avalanche in a lot of different ways, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect of his season is that he’s always stayed on the right side of the rules.
He’s played in 61 games and hasn’t committed a single penalty. No other player has participated in more than 34 contests without ending up in the sin bin at least once.
“Growing up, my parents always told me, you can never score from the penalty box. You can never help the team win from the box,” O’Reilly told the Denver Post.
That’s not to say he’s opposed to taking “good” penalties. He would be willing to fight a player that nails one of his teammates from behind or hook a guy that seems poised to score on a breakaway.
He’s also not going out of his way to play a conservative game, as evidenced by the fact that he’s tied for third in the NHL with 61 takeaways.
The 23-year-old is a serious contender for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which awards players that display sportsmanship while also maintaining a high standard of play. Martin St. Louis, who won the award for the third time last season, has 20 penalties in 64 games in 2013-14.
O’Reilly is also one of the Avalanche’s most valuable players, given that he leads the team with 24 goals and 17 power-play points.
He’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer, provided that the Avalanche are willing to make a qualifying offer of at least $6.5 million. That’s certainly a steep price, but it would be tough for them to let O’Reilly walk away.