|Patrick O'Sullivan. Photo by Getty Images. |
“He’s an ultra-skilled guy,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said after watching O’Sullivan’s four-point game. “He has top-end skill. And in the game in Anaheim he meshed well very well with (rookie forward Andy) Miele. The two of them were a really dynamic combination.”
The Coyotes signed the veteran of 311 NHL regular season games to a one-year, two-way contract in August in an effort to add depth to the organization.
It was just two seasons ago that O’Sullivan was a mainstay on an NHL roster. But after a season in which he bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL, the 26-year-old is trying to show that he belongs on an NHL roster for good.
O’Sullivan, a second round selection by the Minnesota Wild in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, got his start in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season. He played 44 games that year and notched five goals and 14 assists. The following season he played in all 82 regular-season games for LA, scoring a career-high 53 points. It seemed as if O’Sullivan was well on his way to being a main component of the Kings roster, but on March 4, 2009, he was part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Edmonton Oilers.
Last season was nothing short of a hockey odyssey of sorts for O’Sullivan. He started off with the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring a goal in 10 games. He then suited up for Minnesota, registering seven points in 21 games. On January 14, O’Sullivan was assigned to Houston of the AHL, finishing the regular season with 48 points in 36 games for the Aeros.
“Last year was difficult,” O’Sullivan said. “I played 300 straight games in the NHL and all of a sudden you come to a crossroads in your career a little bit and I had to go down and play in the AHL.”
I think what I’m able to do on the ice is something that this team could use.” - Patrick O'Sullivan
But O’Sullivan’s time with the Aeros wasn’t a total negative experience. That's because he helped lead Houston to the Calder Cup Finals, where it lost in six games to Binghamton. The excitement of playing for a championship reinvigorated the native of Winston-Salem, N.C.
“I got to enjoy the game again,” O’Sullivan said. “The first half of last year wasn’t fun; switching teams and my wife was pregnant. I didn’t get to see her much at all the entire season.”
And now O’Sullivan has brought his reinvigorated game to Phoenix with hopes that his responsible play on both sides of the puck, combined with his veteran experience, will make him a valuable asset to the Coyotes.
“I think what I’m able to do on the ice is something that this team could use,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s my job to show that I can be reliable defensively and play the way this team plays.”