This may be Doug Armstrong’s best work.
On July 1, 2018, The St. Louis Blues traded Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, a first round 2019 draft pick, and 2020 second round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan O’Reilly.
Some were unsure about the deal. Others liked. Many loved it. Analysts wanted to look at it a year later for complete fairness. Well, let’s do that.
In the past week, O’Reilly has won the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe trophy (given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Final), and today, the Selke Trophy, presented to the best defensive player.
Before that, O’Reilly matched his career high in goals for a season while setting new career highs in assists and points. He put up 23 total points in the playoffs, even though he played the majority of it with a cracked rib.
Let’s take a quick look at the Sabres rewards in the trade:
Berglund never found traction in Buffalo, shuffling from line to line before leaving the team without leaving a note or clue. He produced more penalty minutes (6) than points (4) in his 23 games. Sobotka put up 13 points in 69 games and Thompson had 12 points in 65 games. The draft spots picked up by Buffalo have yet to be determined value, but I am sure Armstrong could be arrested for robbery this morning.
As I wrote this past weekend, the O’Reilly story should inspire so many inside the sports industry and out of it. For years, you can be treading water in a spot doomed from the beginning, but things can change. O’Reilly wanted to play for a winning team, and got even more in his first season in St. Louis: the whole fucking thing. He walked away with three precious trophies with his name on it.
At 28 years old, I’d say his NHL life is just getting started. Ten years into his time in the league, O’Reilly is standing on top of the mountain looking down at everyone else.
It’s not often you can say a blockbuster trade was won in one season, but when it comes to the Ryan O’Reilly acquisition, I think you are safe to assume so.
A year ago, he was still in Buffalo, tied down with a multi-year contract looking for fresh air. Let’s just say he got it. He didn’t just find a home and limitless NHL glory in the “boring” Midwestern state; O’Reilly may have found the rest of his career here.
He may be Armstrong’s best work as a Blues executive.