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O'Regan eager for chance with Sabres

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

The first texts that Danny O'Regan received upon being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres came from his family. The next two came from Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues.

O'Regan, acquired from San Jose along with a pair of draft picks in exchange for Evander Kane on Feb. 26, was recalled by the Sabres from Rochester on Wednesday morning. While he won't be in the lineup for the team's home game against Calgary, Phil Housley said it likely won't be long before he gets his shot.

The forward appeared in 19 NHL games for San Jose this season, his second as a pro. Although he enjoyed his time with the Sharks organization, he admitted that the presence of Eichel and Rodrigues - his former linemates at Boston University - made Buffalo an exciting proposition. 

"Yeah, it definitely added to it," O'Regan said. "I knew they're both good friends and they'd make me feel right at home when I got here, and they've been great so far."

O'Regan scored a pair of goals in three games for Rochester after the trade, giving him a total of 27 points (9+18) in 34 AHL games this season. He was named the league's Rookie of the Year last season after scoring 58 points (23+35) in 63 games for the San Jose Barracuda. 

In the past two seasons combined, he scored four assists in 24 games with the Sharks. 

"I think last year was good for me," he said. "… I was up and down a bit. I kind of got a taste of what it's like to be in the NHL. That definitely helped, because I wanted to just keep improving my game. I knew I was that one inch, that one step away from being an NHL player. So, I've just been trying to focus on those little things."

Rodrigues, who played as O'Regan's linemate for three seasons in college, described him as a player with a high hockey IQ who has a knack for getting open around the net. O'Regan added speed to that list of qualities.

"I try to play fast," he said. "I think I hurt myself when I'm not playing fast and then I start overthinking things. I think that creeps into a lot of guys' games. The one thing I've been trying to do is just play fast, let your legs do the work. 

"I've been playing hockey a long time, a lot of things come pretty natural to me, so as long as I play fast and hard hopefully good things will come."

As for a potential reunion for his line with Eichel and Rodrigues, O'Regan admitted it's been joked about. Before he can think seriously about it, though, he has one more step to take.

"It creeps in [the mind], obviously, but it's not something I'm looking to have happen next week," he said. "I've just got to earn my spot, stay up here, get myself in the lineup. If that day comes, I think we'll get the chemistry back right away but until then I've just got to take care of business."

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