Will O’Neill
Image: Holly Gunning/HF

Will O’Neill


Boston Massachusetts

Currently Playing In:






Eligible for draft:









7th round (210th overall), 2006


193 lbs.

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2004-05: Will O'Neill represented the USA on the U-17 team at the Five Nations Cup. Was ranked 173rd amongst North American skaters by ISS.

2005-06: Played prep school hockey at Tabor Academy scoring 5 goals with 25 assists in 30 games.

2006-07: O'Neill had 13 points and 73 PIM in 57 games with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Was scoreless in five playoff games for the Lancers with 8 PIM.

2007-08: O'Neill came into his own in his second season in the USHL – scoring 5 goals with 19 assists in 48 regular season games and a plus/minus rating of +18. He was also quite combative – racking up 95 PIM. In 14 playoff games for the Lancers, he scored 1 goal with 6 assists and was a +7 with 38 PIM.

2008-09: O'Neill entered the University of Maine and saw significant ice time as a freshman both on defense and occasionally as a forward. He endured the typical ups-and-downs of a first-year player adapting to the increased physical and technical demands of a higher level of competition. In 34 games with the Black Bears, he scored 4 goals with 12 assists with 82 PIM for a sub-.500 Maine squad.

2009-10: Both Maine and O'Neill had a bounce back season. A long range flier when the Thrashers drafted him in 2006, O'Neill displayed the offensive flourish and playmaking potential that he showed in prep school. In 39 games, O'Neill scored 6 goals with 23 assists and improved his plus/minus rating to -2 while reducing his penalty minutes (69) despite increased ice time. Six of his eight goals were scored on the power play as the Bears enjoyed a winning season and advanced to the Hockey East championship game, losing to eventual Frozen Four champion Boston College in OT.

2010-11: As an upperclassman, O’Neill took on added responsibility for the University of Maine Black Bears, wearing the "C" on his jersey, as co-captain, and playing on all special teams. Although hampered by a leg injury for much of the year, he produced offensively with 21 points in 28 games. Entering his final year of college eligibility, O’Neill needs to continue to work on his mobility and conditioning in order to have a chance at a contract by the end of the year. Although the odds are against him, his good hockey sense, competitive nature and desire to win make him an intriguing prospect.

2011-12: O'Neill made his pro hockey debut with Winnipeg AHL affiliate St. John's after signing a two-year entry-level contract with the Jets in March 2012 following his senior season at Maine. O'Neill scored 1 goal with 2 assists and was plus-one with nine penalty minutes in seven games with the IceCaps. He was a healthy scratch during the playoffs as St. John's reached the Eastern Conference finals. O'Neill led all Maine defensemen with 30 assists and was minus-five with 3 goals and 68 penalty minutes in his final season with the Black Bears. Maine finished fourth in Hockey East and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after reaching the Hockey East championship game.


Talent Analysis

O'Neill is a player whose production has always been more than his skill level would suggest. Panned coming out of prep school hockey for his skating ability and lack of physical strength, he succeeds through determination, hockey smarts and a fierce distaste for losing. The son of long-time Salem State coach Bill O'Neill, the younger O'Neill's strength is his understanding of the game and offensive instincts. He must fight to maintain his intensity without losing focus or taking careless penalties but is a natural team leader. While his intangibles have made him a successful player at the college level, he will need to continue to improve his skating and technical skills to have a shot at the next level.

As with most offense-first defenseman, O'Neill's defensive play is a work in progress. He takes the body when he has the opportunity, but struggles at times with gap control and in one-on-one play.



O’Neill needs to continue to work on his mobility and conditioning in order to have a chance at a contract by the end of the year. Although the odds are against him, his good hockey sense, competitive nature and desire to win make him an intriguing prospect.



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