By Erica Whyte
It was just like any other normal Monday morning for forward Daniel O’Regan. He headed to practice with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2012.
By Monday afternoon, however, things changed drastically for the 24-year-old. He was packing his apartment and preparing to move to western New York as the newest member of the Buffalo Sabres organization.
On Tuesday, O’Regan was flying across the country, and on Wednesday he set foot in The Blue Cross Arena for the first time, met his new team, and played his first game as an Amerk later that night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“It’s been a little crazy, I've never been traded before,” said O’Regan of the last few days. "I was on the ice practicing and I got called off and heard the news and I was extremely excited to join this organization. It was a hectic 48 hours, but I’m just happy to be here.”
The 5-foot-10 forward joined the Sabres organization following Monday’s only move during the NHL trade deadline that sent Evander Kane to the Sharks. Buffalo also acquired two conditional draft picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in the deal.
Before joining the Amerks, O’Regan appeared in a career-high 19 NHL games with the Sharks in his second professional season in 2017-18, tallying four assists. The Berlin, Germany native also has five points (1+4) through 22 NHL games in two seasons with San Jose, while adding 83 points (30+53) in 94 AHL games with the Barracuda. Prior to beginning his pro career, O’Regan played four seasons at Boston University, totaling 154 points (66+88) in 154 games.
“I heard he’s really smart and he can score goals, so that helps,” said head coach Chris Taylor of the Amerks newest addition. "But first and foremost, I heard he’s a great person on and off the ice, and that’s what we want. We want good people in our dressing room.”
A good guy, with stellar stats. After ending his rookie season as the team leader in points, O’Regan topped the Barracuda’s leaderboard in points per game this year, in his second year pro.
WATCH: O'REGAN AFTER HIS FIRST PRACTICE WITH THE AMERKS
On top of that, the 24-year-old forward was the AHL’s Rookie of the Year last season, when he produced 23 goals, 35 assists and 58 points in 63 games for the San Jose Barracuda. He was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team before adding seven points (4+3) in 15 playoff contests during San Jose’s run to the Western Conference Finals.
O’Regan kept it simple when describing his style of play.
“I like to play hard in all three zones. I try to make plays and create offense in any way I can. And I try to score goals, too.”
His personal success aside, it’s his familiarity with the Sabres organization that has made the transition to Rochester that much easier. Not only did O’Regan play at Boston University with Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues, but they were all linemates during Eichel’s Hobey Baker-winning season in 2014-15.
And the connections don’t stop there.
"Colin Blackwell, I lived with him last year in San Jose, and he went to Harvard with my brother, Tommy. Same with Kyle Criscuolo and Sean Malone, too. "I played with Sahir Gill at BU in my freshman year, and I was at Rodrigues’ wedding last summer with five of the guys in here, too, so I’m pretty comfortable already.”
Having that familiarity already in place, O’Regan admitted he’d be relying on that as a means to make his way up to Buffalo and reunite with his college line.
“That’s the goal eventually, to try to get up there, and if that line ever happened again that would be fun. But right now, I’m in this locker room, and looking around there are a lot of great players, and nothing is going to be given to anyone. So while there’s a lot of opportunity, I definitely just got to work hard and earn it.”
The Amerks will begin the last full month of the regular season in Toronto on Saturday for a rematch with the Marlies before hosting the Laval Rocket on Sunday to close out the weekend. The weekend’s games can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.