O’Connor quickly transitioning into a pro

by Scott MacDonald | AHL On The Beat

When Logan O’Connor got the call from the Colorado Avalanche with the news that he’d been invited to the team’s development camp, it came as little surprise to the junior from the University of Denver.

He was confident a call would come.

“I sort of had a feeling I was going to get an invite,” said the Colorado Eagles rookie winger. “To get that phone call was obviously a great chance, and I was really looking forward to it once I got that call.”

Given the chance to prove himself at the rookie development camp, O’Connor quickly impressed. The surprise standout was rewarded with a two-year, entry-level contract by the Avalanche just a little over three weeks after being invited to tryout.

Being offered a professional contract, however, meant that O’Connor had to make a tough decision. To sign the entry-level deal meant the forward would be turning pro, in turn giving up his captaincy — and senior season — with the University of Denver Pioneers.

“It was a very hard decision,” said O’Connor. “It’s been my whole life’s goal to get to the NHL. I really had to dissect it for a couple days — a week — with my family and talk to my resources around me… to help me make the right decision by signing the contract in the end.”

At just 21 years old, O’Connor made the leap to the pros and signed with the Avalanche. Shortly thereafter, he earned himself a spot at the Avs’ training camp, where he was able to spend some time training and skating, this time with their NHL roster.

Once more, O’Connor impressed the Avalanche executives. He was one of the last cuts made from the camp, as the Avs waited just days before the NHL season started before making the decision to send him down to the AHL.

O’Connor is now spending his first pro season with the Colorado Eagles for further development.

With the season now in full swing, O’Connor has had a decent taste of professional hockey in the AHL. And as he did at the Avalanche camp, the rookie’s been quickly impressing in the early parts of his first pro season.

“I think I have made the right decision,” added O’Connor of how he’s felt thus far with the Eagles. “I feel like my development so far this year has been good. I like where my game’s at, but there’s definitely a lot of facets I want to improve on to make that next step.”

O’Connor was a standout player at the University of Denver during his three-year tenure, steadily improving his point total each season. The hard-working forward didn’t miss a game with the Pioneers over his last two years there; and during his sophomore season, he helped his team capture the 2017 NCAA national championship.

“Obviously pro hockey is a different game than college,” said O’Connor of his transition to the AHL. “[I’m] trying to learn it as fast as possible and make an impact here and see what I can do.”

So far, O’Connor’s talent on the ice has been noticeable in the early portion of his first professional season. The standout forward from DU has picked up right where he left off in college, and his pro hockey career is off to a solid start with the Eagles.

Skating in each of the team’s first 29 games, O’Connor has scored nine goals — three of them shorthanded — and added seven assists for 16 points. And he’s been quickly becoming a fan favorite in Northern Colorado.

It’s safe to say he’s enjoying his time here in Loveland, too.

“This building gets very loud and I’ve been impressed so far,” O’Connor said of Eagles fans. “Especially, hearing some places around the league don’t generate as good of attendance [as Colorado], but coming here the fans have been unbelievable and it’s been nothing but support the whole time.”

So far, it looks as if O’Connor made the right decision by turning pro. If he continues this success with the Eagles, he may be realizing his NHL dreams sooner than he thought.