After some success in the US National Team Development Program, Patrick O’Sullivan was drafted first overall by the Mississauga IceDogs in the 2001 OHL Priority Draft. He didn’t disappoint the team as he picked up 92 points in 64 games, good enough for ninth in the league in scoring, and also good enough to earn him the OHL and CHL rookie of the year honors.
Over the course of his OHL career, O’Sullivan has earned many player of the week nods, he was invited to the 2003 CHL Top Prospects Game, he’s been an all-star, and he led the IceDogs in scoring in all three years with the team, easily making it to the franchise leader in all offensive categories.
Despite his impressive stats, personal issues and clashes with coaches lowered O’Sullivan’s stock in the eyes of many NHL clubs and allowed the Wild to select first round talent in the second round, 56th overall in 2003. He attended the Wild training camp in 2003 but was an early cut. He was given instruction by Lemaire and the Wild starting then and he showed a noticeable increase in maturity over the course of the 2003-04 season. The highlight seemed to be his two-goal performance, including the game winner, in the final game of the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland. That put his name on lips of many casual hockey fans, but his performance for the IceDogs in the OHL playoffs made it clear to the hockey world that the Wild made a great second round selection. He had 23 points in 24 games and helped lead the IceDogs to the Eastern Conference championship. They fell short in the OHL finals and were swept, missing out on an opportunity to advance to the Memorial Cup.
2005-06: finished third in the league in goal scoring, fourth in overall scoring, first in goals and points amongst rookies, and was named as the Rookie of the Year. Traded to Los Angeles in a draft day trade which sent Pavol Demitra to Minnesota.
2006-07: O’Sullivan began the season on the NHL roster, but was demoted to Manchester after lackluster play. While Manchester, he regained his scoring touch and began to improve his play without the puck. O’Sullivan was called back up to Los Angeles towards the end of the season where he remained, showing vastly improved play with 12 points in his final 14 games and increased ice-time.
Read Hockey’s Future’s April 2004 interview with O’Sullivan here.
O’Sullivan has a quick release shot that is extremely accurate and it has served his goal scoring well in his junior career. He is also an excellent skater and stick handler. Completing the offensive package, O’Sullivan has developed into a skilled playmaker, often setting up the muscle on his line for easy tap in goals. The IceDogs eventually double shifted him at even strength most games along with assigning him to first power play and penalty killing units. The bigger the game the better O’Sullivan seems to play, and he thrives on a leadership role. O’Sullivan’s personal problems were the primary reason he slipped to the second round, not his skill.
The picture is not all rosy, however, as O’Sullivan has taken too many penalties, often retaliatory, throughout his hockey career. As a result, junior teams pestered him as much as possible to disrupt the IceDogs offensive attack. Even in the 2003-04 year O’Sullivan ended up in Coach Gilbert’s doghouse from time to time, but he did keep his PIMs way down compared to other seasons.