The NHL Network is preparing for the start of the regular season in a month by hopping right into a contentious list of the fifty best players in the NHL, regardless of position. The first half of the Top 50 Players Right Now countdown aired last night, and it features exactly one member of the St. Louis Blues: their captain, Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly sits at 26th overall, one spot above Sabres captain (for now) Jack Eichel, and one slot below Blues rival Roman Josi. The rankings were based on player performance from the 2021 season as well as the 2021 playoffs.
O’Reilly is the only representative on the bottom half of the NHL’s list, but he’s not the only familiar name. At number 28, just below the team’s current captain, is former captain Alex Pietrangelo.
Just because O’Reilly is the only representative in the bottom half of the top fifty doesn’t mean that the NHL Network folks aren’t effusive with their praise. Former Blackhawk and Predator Stu Grimson had this to say about O’Reilly:
He is infuriating in terms of the opposition forwards he plays against. He’s great with that stick, he’s got that nasty little toe curve way up high on the stick and for that reason, he’s always continually striping opposition forwards when in a puck battle down low. …Really strong on the puck, really determined just in terms of winning those battles, and yes, there’s the offensive upside that comes with all that. A really consistent performer, love me some ROR.
You can’t get much more fair than that.
To see if the Blues have any other representatives, number 11-20 is being counted down Sunday, September 19th at 5:00 Central, and the top ten will be listed off at 5 on Sunday, September 26th.