Monday, July 22, 2013
O'Reilly key to Avs' new top line?
By Luke Lapinski
Ryan O'Reilly has predominantly spent the first four years of his NHL career playing center. That will likely change next season though, as new Colorado coach Patrick Roy has made it clear he plans to slide O'Reilly over to left wing on the team's top line. P.A. Parenteau will flank the right side, while Matt Duchene anchors the middle.
On paper, that's a lot of quality offensive talent. But switching from center to wing isn't always a simple transition. O'Reilly is used to patrolling the middle of the ice while assuming considerable responsibilities on both ends. It's not as it he won't have to play any defense as a winger, but centers generally have to take on a bigger role in their own zone -- and that means expending more energy skating. It wouldn't be a shock if he needs an adjustment period to get used to his new spot on the ice.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post thinks the new line will ultimately work out though, because O'Reilly is strong along the boards and will have the opportunity to pick up more goals simply by crashing the net. And Duchene is excited about the upside the new setup provides. If O'Reilly can get comfortable on the wing early on, the Avalanche could have an imposing top line for opponents to deal with in 2013-14.