Getting to Know: Cal O’Reilly

The Penguins claimed forward Cal O’Reilly off of re-entry waivers from the Phoenix Coyotes this past Wednesday.

For Penguins general manager, Ray Shero, this was the right time for the Penguins to make a move with O’Reilly according to

“He had been through waivers a little while ago. We talked about it, but it wasn’t the right time or money-wise it wasn’t right,” Shero said. “Coming re-entry and with Staal and Sid being out, we liked him enough in the past to give him an opportunity.”

O’Reilly was originally drafted by the Nashsville Predators, so the Penguins GM is familiar with the 6 foot, 188 pound centerman since Shero was the GM for Nashville when they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (150th overall).

Since that time, O’Reilly made his NHL debut during the 2008-09 season with the Predators on February 28, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings and scored his first career goal just a month later against Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings on March 28, 2009 playing alongside former Predators temmate and now current Penguin teammate Steve Sullivan.

Earlier in his hockey career, he played in the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06) and once he was drafted by Nashville, he moved on to play for their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09) with whom he had previously signed an amateur try-out contract strictly for the 2005-06 playoffs.  He had helped lead the AHL team to the Championship which they eventually lost to the Hershey Bears.  He was also named to the All-Star team for his last season with Milwaukee (2008-09).

It was also in the 2008-09 season that he made his NHL debut then split his 2009-10 season between the Admirals and the Predators.  He actually signed a one-year deal with Nashville this past off-season on July 7, 2011, but was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes shortly thereafter in October 2011, and was ultimately claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh.

O’Reilly was born and raised in Ontario and has a younger brother, Ryan, who plays hockey for the Colorado Avalanche.

It was unknown as to when O’Reilly will be placed in the Penguins’ lineup.  He traveled to be with the team in Toronto on Wednesday when Pittsburgh played their second game against the Maple Leafs, so it will most likely be at the Penguins next game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.  And it’s a good possibility that he will center a line alongside former teammate Sullivan once again.  The lineups during yesterday’s practice and Dan Bylsma would confirm this:

Kunitz – Malkin – Neal
Cooke – Jeffrey – Dupuis
Sullivan – O’Reilly – Kennedy
McDonald – Park/Vitale – Adams

The plan is to get him in some hockey games for us. Today we played him on a line with Steve Sullivan and Tyler Kennedy, which is a little bit more of an offensive-looking line. I’m looking to work him in on the second power play as well. So yes, we’ll see him on this trip. – Bylsma on the plan for O’Reilly (from Pittsburgh

But O’Reilly’s net-front presence, his familiarity being on a line with Steve Sullivan, and the ability to play with discipline (throughout his entire NHL career in the last four seasons, he has a total of 12 PIM) will be a welcome addition to the Penguins lineup this afternoon.

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  • Troy Pfaff

    A lot of people think this was a waste of salary and we would be better off without having made this claim, but I disagree.

    He’s a playmaker who has played his entire NHL career for defensive teams who don’t let their offensive players fully bloom. His lack of points in the NHL is understandable at that point, and I think a move here where I assume he’ll play with Kennedy and Sullivan should be great for him. He’s nearly a point-per-game player in his AHL career.

    Hopefully he will be willing to move to wing, though, given our depth down the middle.

    Plus, we only pay 50% of his pro-rated cap hit, which translates to about $105,000, so the cap hit is essentially a non-factor. Hopefully he works out!

  • Stephanie Lewark

    I agree with you completely. There’s not much to lose with a pick-up like this especially if he plays well. Honestly, Shero has proven to be a great GM and most of his moves have benefited the team (other than Hossa and Comrie that I can think of off-hand, but even with these players it wasn’t much of a risk and were really worth a try). O’Reilly can help out at least while Staal and Crosby are out. And it may help motivate TK to start scoring (since both Sully and O’Reilly are passers) … it could actually be a really good thing if he starts scoring! I think like with most things, people don’t like change and are usually going to complain about it (I’d rather add to the team then see a player go though). THANKS for your take (I agree)!