I think the Blues should make a trade for Ryan O’Reilly, but first, allow me to be candid.
Earlier this week, I got a text from a friend who had some connections in the Buffalo Sabres organization. He isn’t a member of the Blues lounge. I threw the proposed trade that would land the St. Louis Blues O’Reilly and send Robert Thomas up north on Twitter. I didn’t immediately write an article about it or contract the STLGT leaders, Laura Astorian and Brad Lee, because I thought of it as fun and engaging and wanted to let it settle in. There wouldn’t be a prize if I was right, but I knew there would be a roast if I was wrong.
Over the next 24 hours, stuff happened, I would experience a whirlwind of activity, resulting in a Twitter follower spike, radio interviews in Buffalo, and some push back from Blues and Sabres fans. This was expected. You mess with franchise fanbases who have never seen a Stanley Cup, and there will be consequences.
I did all this for a good reason, and it had nothing to do with social media networking or talking on the radio: I really want the Blues to land O’Reilly. You can blame one tweet from Nick Baird for firing me up:
Ryan O’Reilly— Nick Baird (@CaliBlues710) June 27, 2018
-One of the best 2-way C’s in the entire NHL.
-Got top 3 hardest minutes last season and still put up 61 pts on a bad BUF team.
-Better career #’s before coming to STL than Schenn.
-Not the next Stastny, way better fit for #91.
-He’s a guy you want to go to war with
“He’s a guy you want to go to war with.” Hook, line, and sinker. There I went.
When I got the trade proposal from a source, I did think about it and threw it up. Possibly too soon. I mean, if you forget one letter in a guy’s name, he ceases to exist, but in the end, I think O’Reilly can help the Blues in a big way.
He’s a center and the Blues need more of those to make their lines some depth. Paul Stastny is gone and I think O’Reilly can be better than the hometown kid ever was here. He put up 61 points with a shitty Buffalo team last year, scoring 24 goals. He’s put up 20+ goals in four of the last five seasons, and is good for right around 60 points a year.
Again, he put up these stats with bad teams, so imagine what he can do with a guy like Vladimir Tarasenko. O’Reilly did put up better numbers than Brayden Schenn, who thrived last year in St. Louis. When you put a hard working guy with some talent like O’Reilly with the right players, his numbers will only go up.
Yes, the addition of O’Reilly may bump Schenn to the second line, but once again, it just makes the Blues attack that much deeper and versatile.
O’Reilly is fearless on the ice and not afraid to use his body to send a message or get the job done. He’s Jaden Schwartz with less reckless abandon on the sheet. He also fired 230 shots on goal last year, which the Blues definitely need more of. Shot takers.
He’s a horse. O’Reilly has played in at least 60% of his team’s games in each of his nine seasons, including at 70+ in each one except for the 2012-13 lockout shortened season. He takes the ice and plays the hardest minutes there are to find. Who doesn’t want that?
Let’s be honest. John Tavares sure looks nice, but he told the Blues no. So did Artemi Panarin. There are players who don’t like spending years in St. Louis. O’Reilly hasn’t made those claims, and could help the Blues.
The cost? O’Reilly has five years left on his contract with a $7.5 million yearly tab. If he can put up 60-70 points and play 75 games, that isn’t a big price to pay. If you want to upgrade and get proven talent, it should cost. The Blues have around $17 million in free cap space, and with Carter Hutton and Kyle Brodziak likely going elsewhere, there should be cash to bring aboard O’Reilly’s salary.
It’s funny. Fans will complain when Doug Armstrong does nothing, and also when he doesn’t bring aboard the player they want. In this league, you can’t be super-picky. If the inbound talent can help your team, you pull the trigger. O’Reilly is a talented center who could be even better in St. Louis if paired with the right players.
What about Robert Thomas? According to Jeremy Rutherford, Thomas wouldn’t be involved, so the people who hated my source’s trade proposal can rejoice. That means it could include Jordan Kyrou or Klim Kostin. I don’t think Tage Thompson gets it done. Buffalo wants a viable center that can become a player like O’Reilly. Thompson’s upside isn’t close to the other three. I personally value Kyrou’s skill on the offensive side of the ice the most, so losing him over Thomas will be disappointing.
O’Reilly’s arrival shouldn’t block the young gun uprising in St. Louis. Thomas/Kyrou can still come play a line, especially if Armstrong can dump Patrik Berglund or Vladimir Sobotka’s salary onto a drunk general manager’s lap. You need quality veterans to properly guide the young kids, and they can learn a thing or two from O’Reilly.
What happens when players say no to you? You pick up your head and look elsewhere. If Tavares doesn’t want to come here, you kick his new team’s ass with Ryan O’Reilly on your side. Armstrong, who’s got a new contract, could show some vision with this trade while not selling out the future. The Blues missed the playoffs last year, so some direction is required as the team moves forward.
Please don’t let the Ryan Miller trade from 2014 sour you. That was a bad deal, because the Blues really needed goals and points, and not another goaltender. O’Reilly is different. He’s got a contract, can put up 60 points, and give the Blues a viable two-way center. Something they need.
Late Thursday night, I put up a tweet saying that I stood by my source and I still do. The truth is I don’t care if it takes Thomas or Kyrou; Ryan O’Reilly is worth it. He deserves to play on a winning team and the Blues need his services to give them some more offensive firepower to compete next year.
Happy drinking on this fine holiday weekend, ladies and gents.