Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly is the team’s best all around player. Yes, there’s Jack Eichel and soon he will be, but the 2016 all-star has done everything for the blue and gold.
O’Reilly plays in every situation for this hockey club. He plays in the offensive zone, defensive zone, the power play and penalty kill, also the best face-off player on the team. His average time on ice last season was 21:28. At times, I thought he was over-used plenty by Dan Bylsma, which led to him slowing down near the end of the year.
He missed 10 games overall with an oblique injury and a foot injury. In 72 games, he had 20 goals, 35 assists for 55 points.
So what should we expect in year three from the highest paid Sabres player (for now) in history?
I think I may be giving new incoming head coach Phil Housley way too much premature credit, but I think he will know how to manage his players smartly. As I said previously, he was overused and in the end became worn out. I think he will be more fresh under Housley all throughout this upcoming season.
Of course, still doing everything he does on the ice: Playing against the opponents top line, being on the power play/penalty kill.
Keeps playing with Kyle Okposo: Both players played well with each other, when you have two complete hockey players on the same line, I think they will only get better and help the Sabres improve on their awful 5 on 5 play.
Being healthy is key as well. He only missed 10 games, but they were spread out. It’s tough for any hockey player when they get back to get in a rythum.
Jack taking the pressure off: Jack will hopefully be better at faceoffs and can get more minutes against top competition, lightening some weight off ROR’s shoulders.
If the Buffalo Sabres want to achieve 95 points and a playoff berth, O’Reilly will be a huge part of that.