NYI FUTURE WATCH: WES O'NEILL
The Islanders' fourth round, 2004 draft pick, Wes O'Neill, has been a standout defenseman at Notre Dame for the past three seasons and getting better each year. In his freshman year, O'Neill's 2003-04 Notre Dame squad reached the NCAA Tournament, but was knocked out in the first round by Minnesota. O'Neill's team hasn't reached the tournament since, but not because of his play.
O'Neill led all Notre Dame defensemen with a +7 rating, led the team's freshmen in assists with ten and topped all Notre Dame freshmen defensemen in points with 12. His impressive rookie season earned him honorable mention honors for the CCHA All-Rookie Team.
The smooth skating defenseman played for Team Canada at the 2004 Under-18 World Juniors tallying a goal and an assist in seven games. His keen vision and pinpoint passing has made him vital to his team's breakout.
The Essex, Ontario native only got better in his sophomore year with the Fighting Irish, tying for the team lead in goals (6) and placing second on the team in assists (14), points (20) and shots on goal (73). O'Neill also quarterbacked the Notre Dame power play, placing first in team power play goals (5), assists (8) and points (13).
His junior year proved to be his best, notching career-highs in assists (19) and points (25). O'Neill will sacrifice his productivity in his final season to get a chance to return to NCAA Tournament. From there, he'll take his experience from Notre Dame and hope to parlay it into a spot on the Islanders' roster in the near future. The former USHL All-Star spoke about a range of topics following his second Islanders Development Camp.
On the 2006 Islanders Development Camp:
It's always good to come back and see the guys you played with last year. This year's camp was tougher and longer than last year's camp. The competition this year was better with more players. I like getting a chance to come out to the camps each year and face some tough competition.
On his strengths:
I would say my strength is my passing and my vision. I'm more of a setup guy, so I like to dish the puck off when I get the opportunity. The breakout pass is really important to my game. I won't hesitate to shoot when the times comes though. I'm a pretty big guy, so I try to model my game after Chris Pronger. He sees the ice so well, but he is reliable defensively.
On improving his game:
If there is one part of my game that I'd like to work on, it's my skating. You can never stop improving your skating. With the new NHL, speed has become even more of a factor. That first step is the most important one.
On the Islanders:
The Islanders have treated my really well so far. Everyone here has been nice and they know how to make everyone feel comfortable. It seems like a good group of guys in the organization.
On playing at Notre Dame:
I've had an excellent time playing at Notre Dame. I've improved each year and I hope that I continue to improve and that the team has success. I've had the opportunity to play under head coach Jeff Jackson who was an assistant coach with the Islanders in 2003-2004. I'm looking forward to one day making the jump to the NHL.
On Trottier and Nolan:
It's been great to skate on the same ice with Bryan Trottier. I remember watching highlight films from his days with the Islanders. I'm also excited to get the chance to play under Ted Nolan, who I've heard nothing but good things about.
The O'Neill File
Favorite Superpower: X-ray vision
Green Day or Eminem? Green Day
Favorite non-North American City: Prague
Favorite Sport other than hockey: Golf
If you didn't play hockey professionally what you be? A golfer
Superman or Batman? Superman
Favorite TV show: Entourage
Favorite Movie: Tombstone
If you could have dinner with two people who would they be? Wayne Gretzky & Bobby Orr
If you could be a part of one event history what would it be? The founding of Canada
Born: March 3, 1986 -- Essex, Ontario
Height: 6-4 Weight: 200 Shoots: Left
Drafted by New York Islanders in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM
2002-03 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 50 2 15 17 79
2003-04 Notre Dame NCAA 39 2 10 12 28
2004-05 Notre Dame NCAA 38 6 14 20 52
2005-06 Notre Dame NCAA 35 6 19 25 40
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