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The Buffalo Sabres shipped center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday for three forwards and two draft picks.
In return, the Sabres acquired forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and Tage Thompson. The Sabres also got a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
As part of the trade agreement, the Blues have shouldered O’Reilly’s signing bonus amounting to $7.5 million. O’Reilly has five seasons remaining on the seven-year contract that he signed with the Sabres. The center will have a cap hit of $7.5 million through the 2022-23 season.
According to Doug Armstrong, St. Louis general manager, he had been working with the Sabres on a potential trade. At first, the deal involving O’Reilly fell apart, but the two sides were able to iron out other details that made it a win-win situation for both teams.
“Buffalo did a nice job of maintaining their desire for Tage and the picks. Then you have to do the match to make it work,” Armstrong said.
The 27-year-old O’Reilly will be a welcome addition to the Blues. Last season, he tallied 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) in 81 games. O’Reilly also finished second in the NHL in face-off winning percentage (60 percent).
Blues Boost Center Spot With O’Reilly Trade
According to Armstrong, the Blues have boosted their center position with the O’Reilly acquisition. Aside from O’Reilly, the Blues added free-agent center Tyler Bozak by signing him to a three-year deal worth $5 million annually. Currently, the Blues have Brayden Schenn, O’Reilly and Bozak at center.
“I think that depth down the middle is very important,” Armstrong explained. “When you look at the strength at center in our (Central) Division, when you come with [Brayden] Schenn, O’Reilly, and Bozak, (coach) Mike [Yeo] can play them against any line at any time. It was worth the risk.”
Sabres To Miss O’Reilly’s Productivity
In an interview with The Buffalo News, Jason Botterill, Sabres general manager, admitted that the team will miss O’Reilly’s productivity as a top-end player. However, Botterill said that the move had to be made to change the team’s dynamic.
A second-round pick (33rd overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2009 NHL Draft, O’Reilly joined the Sabres via trade on June 26, 2015. The Avalanche traded O’Reilly and forward Jamie McGinn to the Sabres for forwards Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, defenseman Nikita Zadorov and a draft pick.
In 651 regular-season games, O’Reilly tallied 422 points (155 goals, 267 assists). He also has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 13 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Also, O’Reilly is one of the most dependable centers when it comes to face-offs, winning 58.3 percent in the last three seasons.
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