One Big Night For Blues Will Affect Next Few Years

O’Reilly, who is locked up for the next four years, adds offense, leadership, versatility, and so much more to this roster.

Alex Ferrario
July 02, 2018 - 8:24 am
Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly (90) celebrates after scoring a goal

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

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The acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly last night changed what many fans believed to be another mediocre offseason for Doug Armstrong, to one that has them anxious for the season to begin.

The team signed winger David Perron, and the gritty former Maple Leaf Tyler Bozak hours after free agency opened around the league. The team stock looked to be all but locked in to the "Big Four" prospects (Robert Thomas, Tage Thompson, Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin).

Then, Armstrong pulled off a move that many fans were hoping for at the beginning of the offseason. Acquiring a top-six forward by sending away two players that didn’t fit the team’s system moving forward. All while hanging onto their top prospects: Thomas, Kyrou and Kostin. 

O’Reilly, who is locked up for the next four years, adds offense, leadership, versatility, and so much more to this roster. His last five seasons he posted 50 or more points and played 70 plus games. He posted 15 goals and 23 points on special teams for the Sabres last season, he’s been nominated for the Selke (best defensive forward) or Lady Byng (best exemplifies leadership) award every season but his rookie year, and he can play center or wing for Mike Yeo.

Even before the O’Reilly trade I felt the Blues had a better roster then what they had last season. Bozak and Perron add offense to the lineup by being players that are coming off big seasons for their teams last season. Bozak even mentioned that he isn’t afraid to post-up on the goaltender and names his playmaking ability as one of his strengths. The Blues also added players to the lineup that could help transition Thomas to the pro level if he makes the team out of training camp.

Acquiring O’Reilly turns this team from a playoff contender to a Stanley Cup contender. Not because he is one player but because he joins a team that has been searching for depth down the middle and scoring that had this team at the bottom of the league last season. Think about what this lineup could look like next year:

Schwartz- Schenn - Tarasenko

Steen - O’Reilly - Perron

Fabbri - Bozak - Thomas

Jaskin - Barbashev - Soshnikov

Obviously there will be many options that Yeo can juggle with but the main take away from day one of NHL free agency was that all of the moves happened while holding onto the top prospects. Armstrong found a way to bring talent to this team all while allowing Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Klim Kostin to grow and not be thrusted into a position that rushes their progress. 

The opportunity to move Patrik Berglund's & Vladimir Sobotka’s contract without eating any money was also big. The package of those two along with Thompson and two draft picks may seem like a lot, but Thompson struggled in his rookie year, and draft picks are draft picks. Moving those contracts were huge and it takes talent to get talent in the trade market but Armstrong found a way to do so.

I’m not saying that we should be throwing a parade for him, but for what Armstrong did after day one of free agency, he took one step closer to that goal.