At long last, Ryan O’Reilly has been traded to the St. Louis Blues. In exchange, the Buffalo Sabres have acquired a first round pick in 2019, second round pick in 2021, Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, and Vladimir Sobotka. It has been long reported that the Blues and Buffalo Sabres had engaged in trade talks leading up to the NHL Draft focused around center Ryan O’Reilly. The two teams engaged in talks for several weeks but were unable to come to terms with a deal until now.
The Blues have been long looking for a quality center and they have finally acquired their man. O’Reilly is coming off of a 61-point season (24 G, 37 A), the second highest point total of his career. O’Reilly excelled on a bad Sabres team, who finished with the worst record in the NHL last season. O’Reilly is heading into the 10th year of his career and has consistently put up 50+ points per season in his career. The Blues will likely have O’Reilly play center on their top line.
Apart from just acquiring O’Reilly, the Blues made two huge salary dumps in this trade. They got rid of Patrik Berglund, who is making $3.85M per season. Berglund throughout his career has been unable to stay healthy and regularly underperforms for what he is paid to do. Along with him, Vladimir Sobotka was dealt. Sobotka returned to the Blues a few seasons ago after a stint in the KHL. Despite being nothing more than a third line center all throughout his career, Doug Armstrong still gave Sobotka a contract which saw him paid $3.5M per season for three seasons. Both were grossly overpaid and getting them dealt provided some cap relief.
O’Reilly has a hefty cap hit as well at $7.5M. But O’Reilly is well worth the price tag and is also signed through the 2022-23 season. O’Reilly was dealt before July 1st was over, meaning that the Blues will have to pay his signing bonus of $7.5M. O’Reilly plays a complete two-way game. He can score, set up teammates to score, win faceoffs, whatever the Blues may need from him.
O’Reilly is also very disciplined, as he has never had more than 18 penalty minutes in a single season throughout his career. Here is another key fact: O’Reilly won 60% of his faceoffs last season. The Blues struggled mightily from the faceoff dot last season and O’Reilly should provide some relief from the Blues faceoff woes. O’Reilly should be able to improve this Blues team in multiple facets.
The Blues did lose young prospect Tage Thompson in the trade. Thompson has tremendous upside, and put up nine points (3 G, 6 A) in 41 games played during his rookie yearin 2017-18. Despite losing him, the Blues will be just fine as they have one of the better farm systems in the NHL in terms of quality prospects, especially when it comes to forwards prospects. This trade is a huge win for the Blues in all ways and adding O’Reilly to this bunch and also subtracting Berglund and Sobotka has the potential to do wonders for this franchise.