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Reflecting on the T.J. Oshie and Ryan O’Reilly trades

Sometimes the right piece makes the team.

Washington Capitals v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of this masterpiece:

And today is the five-year anniversary of this trade:

Both deals made at least one team better. Obviously, it’s clear that the Blues benefited from the trade for O’Reilly. They dealt an underperforming prospect and two useful but underperforming centers to Buffalo for a player who directly contributed to the team winning the Stanley Cup last June - so much so that he was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy.

The Blues benefited from the T.J. Oshie trade, but it seemed to be a short term benefit and one that ultimately fell short. Troy Brouwer was a valuable addition that contributed greatly to the Blues’ heavy play in 2015-2016. That team, despite losing to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals, was seen by many as the Blues’ best chance to win a Stanley Cup in the last decade. Until, obviously, the 2018-2019 team came along, bolstered by high expectations built in the off-season with deals like the O’Reilly trade.

The Capitals went on to win the 2018 Stanley Cup, and TJ Oshie finished that year with 18 goals and 29 assists. It was a dip from the previous year’s performance of 33 goals and 23 assists, but it’s hard to deny that Oshie played an important role in powering the team to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Troy Brouwer left in free agency after his year with the Blues, and Pheonix Copley was dealt back to the Caps eventually. The Oshie trade seemed like a bust. But! What if I told you that without the Oshie trade, Doug Armstrong doesn’t have the pieces that Buffalo wants for the deal that brings O’Reilly to St. Louis? Or, maybe he does, but that prospect turns out to be Robert Thomas or Jordan Kyrou?

That third round pick that the Capitals sent with Brouwer and Copley in the 2016 draft went back to the Capitals with the Blues’ first round pick in 2016 in exchange for the Caps’ first round pick that year. The Blues moved up two spots to 26th overall.

Who did the Blues choose in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft? Tage Thompson.

Many Blues fans were upset with the Oshie trade, either because they loved Oshie as a player or didn’t like the idea of shipping someone out to “send a message.” I don’t think many fans would, with the benefit of hindsight, want to undo that trade now. If you need more proof of “everything works out for a reason,” I don’t think that you can do much better than these two deals done three years apart.