A Closer Look at Patrick O'Sullivan

While the Oilers examine their ability to fill a need at the top 3 left wing forward position, a few viable options exist within Edmonton's roster. Obviously the Oilers would like to improve on what is currently available, but should they not be able to; Tambellini, Quinn and Renney may have already discussed who might be playing along side Hemksy and Horcoff to start the season.

Tambellini saw something at the trade deadline last year he liked -- that being Patrick O'Sullivan. Drafted in the second round of the 2003 NHL entry draft at 56th overall by the Wild, O'Sullivan played his first season for their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. He had a great season, scoring 47 goals, with a total of 93 points, breaking all Houston Aeros' rookie records. A nice start and strong showing of character for a youngster growing up with the shadow of an abusive father hanging over him.

Seemingly able to put all of that behind him, he began the 2006/2007 season with the Kings when he made his NHL debut on October 6, 2006, and became the first person from North Carolina to play in the NHL. O'Sullivan didn't really break out in L.A. until 2007/2008 until he played all 82 games, scored 22 goals and 31 helpers for 53 points. He played in all situations and showed his willingness to shoot the puck, leading the Kings with 220 shots taken that year.

Edmonton saw their first taste of him as an Oiler, when on March 4, 2009, O'Sullivan was traded by the Kings with Calgary's second-round pick to the Hurricanes for Justin Williams, then was traded by the Hurricanes along with a second-round pick to the Oilers for Erik Cole and a fifth-round pick. Cole being a UFA at the end of that year; the Oilers needed to move Cole for risk of losing him in the summer for nothing. By most accounts, it was a win trade for Edmonton as O'Sullivan was argueably the best player to change hands.

Before coming here from L.A. that year, O'Sullivan looked to be on pace for another good season, however; seemed to hit a block as tended to be the case for a lot of offensive minded players under Craig MacTavish. O'Sullivan did little to spark the team and they nose-dived out of a playoff spot as both he and the rest of the team struggled.

That said, I don't want to write him off just yet. O'Sullivan likes to shoot. A lot. He finished last season with 259 shots, which was 39 higher than the year before and 51 more times than anyone on the current Oilers roster that year. Shooting the puck has not exactly been the Oilers strong suit.

Hemsky is a known passer and play-maker and Horcoff, more known for his passing and two-way style than ability to finish plays will both require someone who can keep up, (O'Sullivan is a good skater), who can finish (he knows how to put the puck in the net), and more so than anything is willing to try to score. Even more, O'Sullivan may be a spark for a Shawn Horcoff, who at times was so heavily relied upon last year to be defensively responsible for his linemates, that his offense took a massive hit.

O'Sullivan is a well rounded forward, not afraid to play defense and get back into the play. His plus minus hasn't been stellar over his NHL career, but much of that can be contributed to his career being played in L.A, where goals against was a regularity.

Should the Oilers not be able to make a move this summer, look for a debate between Penner and O'Sullivan as starting LW. I expect to see Penner, but my vote goes to O'Sullivan. He makes more sense in his style of play and Penner fits well on the 2nd line, but first unit power play where I wouldn't expect his numbers to drop.

2 comments:

well reasoned ... I agree ... I think Sully can play if allowed to which he wasn't under Mac-T
GMB

Anonymous
July 26, 2009 at 10:42 AM comment-delete

Nice to see I've been able to improve on my past work GMB.

I don't think the Oilers or the fans really got to see the real O'Sullivan last year and I'm excited to see what he brings to the team under a new coaching style.

July 26, 2009 at 11:00 AM comment-delete

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