This five-part series will focus on the players that will don the Manitoba Moose jersey in 2015-16. While these players may see time with the Winnipeg Jets next season, they will likely make up the core of the farm team that will be heading to the Manitoba capital. Part three features Will O’Neill.
Most of the time, late round draft picks are forgotten about very quickly. They get mentioned on draft day, are talked about briefly by the local media and are touted about by the organization as development projects. The vast majority of them have very short or no careers in professional hockey. Will O’Neill is an exception to the rule.
The seventh round selection in the 2006 entry draft, (yes that is going back to the days of the Atlanta Thrashers) can be best described as a late bloomer. He wasn’t that highly regarded coming out of the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, nor was he in the spotlight during his four years at the University of Maine. But that’s OK with the Salem, Massachusetts native.
— St. John’s IceCaps (@IceCapsAHL) April 2, 2015
O’Neill played a more prominent role in St. John’s after Ben Chiarot was called up to the Jets in December. The result was were career highs in goals (10), assists (38), and obviously points (48).
— High End Hockey (@HighEndHockey) April 22, 2015
O’Neill credits his work ethic and his willingness to improve his game.
“I know that every day I work, I get better,” O’Neill told theahl.com in an interview in January.
“I know I feel better about it when I go to bed. The results will come. They might not come right away and I realized that. Really staying with it and working, it all comes together. It might not come this week or next week but it will come.”
So what can Moose fans expect from Will O’Neill?
They can expect a blueliner that will compete every night for every inch on the ice. He has decent offensive instincts and good overall hockey sense but needs to improve his skating. He is as intense as they come but he can take careless penalties. His game has improved every year and Moose fans are hoping that trend continues. Expect O’Neill to be one of the leaders in ice-time for the Moose.