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Development Camp Q&A: Ryan O'Reilly

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
After being selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan O’Reilly flew to Denver for an introductory press conference a few days later with fellow draftees Matt Duchene (3rd overall) and Stefan Elliott (49th overall).

Now, O’Reilly is back in the Mile High City for the Avalanche’s development camp, which runs from July 7-12. The forward sat down with on Thursday to talk about the past few weeks.

Q: I saw that you tested particularly well at the combine, especially in the bench press, where you tied for the combine lead with 18 reps of 150 pounds. Did you know the tests going in and specifically train for them?

“Not entirely. I think I just prepared to be in the best shape I could be. I was told what was going to happen there as far as what the tests would be, but I just did my normal hockey training and tried to work my hardest. It kind of paid off.”

Q: Do you do a lot of weight training normally?
“Yes, I do a lot of weight training, but it’s more a combination of a lot of things. There’s weight training, cardio and other hockey specific exercises. Just a little bit of everything.”

Q: In your opinion, what was the most interesting thing about the NHL Combine?
“I thought it was pretty cool that when you walked into the room it was an “L” shape. All the scouts and TV people are in the middle watching you do your thing. It was kind of cool to have them all watching you, putting extra pressure on you. It gives you that will to produce in front of the scouts and cameras. That was interesting.”

Q: Let’s talk a little about the draft. I’m sure you were a little disappointed not to be selected in the first round, but you certainly didn’t have to wait long to hear your name called on Saturday.
“That Friday night was definitely a long night, because it’s hard to sleep. I was a little upset, but I think it worked out for the best. I got a chance to come to Colorado, the same organization that selected guys I’ve played with before like Matt Duchene and Stefan Elliott. In the end, it worked out well.”

Q: When you woke up on Saturday, did you have any idea which team might pick you?
“I had no clue. My agent said, ‘You’re going today for sure,’ but I really had no idea where I was going. I went early, and things worked out.”

Q: You touched earlier on playing with and against both Matt and Stefan. You have to be pretty familiar with those guys.
“I played with Elliott on both Under-18 teams (the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka and the IIHF World Under-18 Championship), so that was really nice. We have a good relationship and were around each other for a long time. With Duchene, we played together at the Under-17s and Under-18s. The first tournament we played together, we were on the same line. It’s really good, because we got to know each other really well. As far as playing against each other, I had to go against Duchene’s line most of the time, which was really tough.”

Q: You’re known as a two-way forward and someone who is very responsible in your own end. How hard is it to shut down a player like Duchene?
“He’s strong on the puck, definitely. He’s smart, knows where to go and when he’s on the ice you have to be aware of where he is at all times. He’s a great skater, so I had to make sure I was working hard to stick with him.”

Q: Playing internationally is always an honor, but it has to be an even greater honor to serve as captain, like you did at the Under-18 Worlds.

“For sure. It’s a little bit of extra pressure and responsibility, which is great to have. Having everyone look up to you is something special.”

Q: You were at the draft two weeks ago, then came into Denver for a press conference a few days later and now you’re here at development camp. What’s it been like the past few weeks? Have you had a chance to catch your breath yet?
“I’m kind of tired of flying, that’s the main thing (laughs). Dealing with the airports and the luggage and all that. But it’s always nice to come to this city. It has some great people and is really beautiful. It’s definitely nice to come here.”

Q: What are your plans for the rest of the summer? What’s on the agenda between now and rookie camp?
“I’ll probably just go home and train. In August I have World Junior camp for Team Canada, so I’ll go there and do my best to get on the short list. That’s pretty much it.”
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