The day is coming soon when Ryan O’Reilly will be recognized for more than simply sharing his name with an NHL All-Star. Being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2018 was his first step in the right direction for the talented, young forward. Today marks yet another big step, as O’Reilly announced that he will play his college hockey for Arizona State University. O’Reilly has a chance to become the face of the young Sun Devils program, as he is set to be the highest-drafted prospect to ever suit up for Arizona State.
O’Reilly, 19, was selected 98th overall in the fourth round by the Red Wings two years ago, but some projected him to go even higher. A big, natural right wing, O’Reilly is a goal scoring threat from anywhere on the ice. A former verbal commit to the University of Denver, the Dallas, Texas native is an exciting talent given his combination of size and skill. O’Reilly has recorded more than 30 points in each of the past two seasons in the USHL and is on pace to shatter that mark this season. Through 18 games, O’Reilly has scored at a point-per-game pace with nine goals and nine assists.
The Sun Devils gain a major piece with the addition of O’Reilly to next year’s recruiting class and continue to impress with how quickly they have built their program. Arizona State did not ice a Division I hockey team until 2015-16, a season in which they went 5-22-2. Yet, just three years later they were in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The team has been provided with consistently stellar play over the past few years from the likes of forward Johnny Walker, defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk, and since-graduated Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Joey Daccord. Yet, with the team’s recent success they can now compete with other top teams in the recruiting race, adding NHL talent in some cases. Forward Demetrios Koumontzis, selected by the Calgary Flames just ten picks after O’Reilly, is the lone NHL draft pick on the team, but not for long. O’Reilly and young New Jersey Devils-owned goaltender Cole Brady are on their way, undoubtedly followed by more in the near future. While O’Reilly has a chance to be a star for Arizona State and show the Red Wings what he can bring to the NHL level, his commitment will open the door for even more talent to find their way to Arizona State.