The other day we featured an assist specialist in Jamie Johnson. Johnson is heading to Lativa to play for Dinamo Riga of Russia’s KHL for 2012-13. Another set-up man is also on the way to Russia. Ontario Hockey League grad Cal O’Reilly is looking for a little stability after playing for five different teams in 2011-12. He has signed for two years with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
O’Reilly played three years in the OHL from 2003-04 to 2005-06, all with the Windsor Spitfires. In his final season, his 81 assists placed him third behind Rob Schremp and Dylan Hunter, both of the London Knights. His 99 points tied him for eighth with Peter Tsimikalis of the Oshawa Generals.
Cal was taken by the Nashville Predators in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, 150th overall. He was in the Nashville organization up until five games into the 2011-12 season. Most of his time was spent with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League, although he has played in 113 NHL games to date.
For three years, from 2006-07 to 2008-09, O’Reilly placed among the top in the AHL for assists. In his rookie year, he tied for ninth with 47. In his second season, he increased the total to his professional best of 63 and placed third in the league. In 2008-09, despite playing only 67 games, his 56 assists tied him for second. His 79 points in 2007-08 was good enough for fifth in the AHL.
2011-12 was truly a journeyman’s season for Cal. After starting with Nashville, he played for the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, along with the Portland Pirates and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in the AHL. He stuck with the AHL Penguins for their Calder Cup playoff run. After knocking off the Hershey Bears 3-2 in the opening round, the Penguins fell to the St. John’s IceCaps in seven games during the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Magnitogorsk finished the 2011-12 KHL season fourth overall out of 23 teams. Like the AHL Penguins, Metallurg fell in the conference semi-finals. O’Reilly will be joined in 2012-13 on Magnitogorsk by fellow Ontario Hockey League grad Justin Hodgman. Hodgman played with the Erie Otters for four years from 2005-06 to 2008-09. He spent 2011-12 with Pelicans of Finland’s SM-Liiga.