Patrick O'Sullivan (Sully, or as I like to call him, Patty, or how I really like to call him, Pahht-ty O'Sullivan..you know, with that Irish accent I'm so damn good at) was dealt to the Kings in a trade during the 2006 NHL Draft. Prior to Minnesota picking the 17th player in the first round, the Kings traded Pavol Demitra to the Wild for Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th pick. DL mentioned in interviews that they made the trade so they could pick up Trevor Lewis with the 17th pick. At the time I had never heard of O'Sullivan so I did some research on him. (Ok, I'll be honest I was more looking to see if he's hapa, because his eyes sort of make him look like a halfie and I like halfies...except Tootoo.) Anyway, my research turned up a whole lot more about his personal life than I had anticipated. I don't feel that what he dealt with during his younger years should be a part of this post so if you're interested then a quick Google search will reveal some stories. Let's just say that the kid dealt with some adversity, which may or may not have impacted when he was drafted (2nd round of the 2003 NHL Draft). Concerning his hockey career I did find some stats that impressed me: 93 points in 78 games with the Houston Aeros, including a franchise record 47 goals. I thought, "Nice, this kid can play. Maybe he won't be a career AHL player."
O'Sullivan started the 2006-2007 campaign in a Kings jersey but only played just a little over half the season with the Kings. For some reason I was always drawn to him (like I am to Fro) so I wanted him to succeed. However, at the start of the season he just wasn't that much of an impact player. He was ok, but not too noticeable out there. At the start of November he was finally sent down to Manchester to hone his skills. If I remember correctly, at the time Crow or DL said that he just needed to learn how to play smarter and know where he needs to be on the ice at all times.
"One player that I was pleasantly surprised to see play pretty well was Patrick O'Sullivan. He had an extra step and played with more intensity today than I remember during the time he spent with the Kings last season. He played on the PK a lot, almost had a SHG, and set up the empty-netter SHG scored by Handzus."
Since it was the first game of the season it wasn't clear if O'Sullivan would remain one of the main penalty killers. It has become clear since then that O'Sullivan and Michal Handzus are the go-to guys on the PK. Once Handzus found his skating legs and realized he was actually playing hockey and no longer sitting on the IR bench, the two of them established a lot of chemistry. Handzus is typically the one blocking shots and both play aggressively on the PK. O'Sullivan is already having a career season and the season isn't even halfway over. Last season he only played in 44 games and collected 5-14-19. As of Dec 22nd, 37 games into this season, O'Sullivan has 9-9-18, including two 2-goal games, 1 SHG and 2 SHA, while last season he didn't have any shorthanded points. If I did my calcs correctly he's on par to get 42 points barring any injuries that hold him out of games, which is better than what Brownie put up during his sophomore year and only 4 points shy of Brownie's third season. So the question begs, how good is O'Sullivan going to be in the next couple seasons? Will this be his best season and in the future he'll return to the third line? Or will he continue his development and compete for a spot on the first two lines? He's currently making under a million and will become a Restricted Free Agent after this season. It'll be interesting to see if DL decides to re-sign him, trade him before the deadline, or allow a team like Edmonton to swoop in with a hefty offer sheet. The latter isn't too wild of a possibility considering during the '06-'07 season Penner and Vanek recorded 45 points and 41 points, respectively. Sure, Patty is much smaller than those guys, but at least you won't have to worry about him being slow and perhaps needing to drop a few pounds and get in shape.....oooohhh, burn...
I realize that not everyone shares the same fascination of O'Sullivan as I do, but my plea to hockey fans is to give him a chance. Jim Fox described him pretty well the other night by saying that while O'Sullivan won't lead the NHL in scoring he's a player that will have an impact for your team. He kind of has the same skating style as Avery, quick short strides with a lot of energy, yet he's not a d-bag like Aves. He'll go hard in the corners, fight every battle, and every night he's consistently one of the most hardworking guys on the ice. So next time you watch a Kings game, keep your eyes peeled for #12 Patrick O'Sullivan.