NHL Trade Grades Maple Leafs Get Ryan OReilly Their Possible

NHL Trade Grades: Maple Leafs Get Ryan O’Reilly, Their Possible ‘Missing Piece’

The trade

Get Maple Leaves: Ryan O’Reilly (50 percent of salary stays with Blues, 25 percent with Wild), Noel Acciari and Josh Pillar

get blues: Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette, Toronto’s first-round selection in the 2023 draft, Ottawa’s third-round selection in the 2023 draft, and Toronto’s second-round selection in the 2024 draft

Get wild: The Maple Leafs’ fourth-round pick in the 2025 draft

Eric Duhatschek: So what looks like a complicated three-way trade between the Leafs, Blues and Wild — which officially comprised nine separate plays — really boils down to this: Toronto spent heavily to win 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly pick up. to end one of the most confusing, frustrating, and drawn-out examples of playoff futility. An inability to win a round since 2004. An inability to win a championship since 1967.

Is O’Reilly the missing piece? Based on this season’s evidence alone, maybe not. He’s had a checkered period with just 19 points in 40 games and looks like the years are taking their toll on a player with heart and soul, bleeding the team and brimming with leadership.

But he’s been better of late after recovering from a broken foot and returning to the Blues’ lineup after 14 games and has three points in three games. Ultimately, the Leafs are betting that pedigree will matter as the postseason begins.

With O’Reilly on board, the Leafs are making up some ground on the huge lead the Tampa Bay Lightning have in the playoff experience — and who’s kidding who? With two months left of the season, it would take a miracle that Toronto’s first-round opponent would be anyone other than the battle-hardened Lightning. One could argue that Toronto have questions in goal and defense in addition to the fact that they are a little soft up front.

O’Reilly evens the scales a bit and Noel Acciari, viable and experienced, is a useful addition, although there’s no point in overestimating what he brings either. Acciari has seven points in 54 career playoff games. He will fight for the Leafs in the trenches, but his contribution will mostly be providing invisible minutes and the ability to push back when players like Pat Maroon and Corey Perry try to flex their muscles against a Leafs team with a soft bottom six to play .

The acquisition cost — not just to land O’Reilly, but to get the Minnesota Wild to soften the financial blow — is four draft picks: a first, second, third, and fourth, spread over four years . The third choice originally belonged to Ottawa, which acquired Toronto when they agreed to take Matt Murray and his contract out of the Senators’ hands. One could still argue that Toronto’s biggest question mark remains in goal and that if they play Lightning the gap between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ilya Samsonov will be cavernous.

There’s only value in giving up that much draft capital when you’re winning. Not so much when you’re losing. Could the Leafs have spent that somewhere else? Perhaps. It all depends on what O’Reilly ultimately brings into the mix — and whether his presence will end this long, drawn-out playoff drought.

The Blues get one player, Adam Gaudette, who was almost a point-a-game player in the AHL but really no longer projects as an NHLer, plus Mikhail Abramov, 2019 runner-up. Minnesota is essentially buying a fourth-round pick , to keep a quarter of O’Reilly’s salary.

Maple Leafs Class: B
Blues grade: B-plus
Wild Note: B

Dom Luszczyszyn: Four years ago, O’Reilly won the Selke Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup. That O’Reilly is unlikely to walk through the door for the Maple Leafs, not after his weakest season in years. The man’s idea is a bit bigger than what the man actually is, but the Leafs are still acquiring a strong, intelligent player with playoff pedigree. He just needs a smaller role.

If you’re expecting a top-line center like O’Reilly has been for the last half decade or so, you’ll probably be disappointed. At age 32, O’Reilly’s game has fallen below that level this season as he struggled to get anywhere near his usual rate. But the Leafs don’t need O’Reilly to be a top line center; You already have two of the best in the game. They need someone who can direct the supporting cast, and that’s a role O’Reilly should thrive in.

O’Reilly’s tally has fallen every year since 2018-19, but he’s still forecast at 1.2 wins. That may even be modest given the misfortune he’s had this year compared to previous years and the context of his logs. O’Reilly’s minutes are tougher than the league’s 97 percent this season, but they certainly won’t be in Toronto, where he’ll either play in a front two or in a lesser shutdown role in the bottom six. Either way, he should be putting up better numbers with the Leafs.

There are some concerns with O’Reilly at both ends of the ice this season that make his acquisition some risk. He’s conceding chances and goals at the highest rate of his career, and while he creates a lot of chances at the other end, they don’t go in. Compared to his teammates, his impact on goals has been negative for two consecutive seasons. Maybe that’s bad luck, but it’s reason to be cautious about calling the move a certified slam dunk.

The Leafs need it because they paid a tremendous price in draft picks to make it happen. Toronto sent out first, second, third, and fourth round picks to get the money working — a hefty prize — and also added Acciari. St. Louis has done very well to get that much for a declining fortune and should be commended for getting the top dollar back despite a poor season for O’Reilly.

That huge cost doesn’t matter if it works, and O’Reilly could very well be the piece that puts Toronto over the top. But it’s still a risk to essentially go all-in on a 32-year-old recovering from injury and playing far below his usual standards. O’Reilly’s reputation is solid enough to make him a worthy target, and his playoff resume is obviously attractive to a team like the Leafs keen to take the next step. It’s time to see if he lives up to the hype and gets her there.

Maple Leafs Class: B
Blues grade: A
Wild Note: B

(Photo by Ryan O’Reilly: Bob Frid / USA Today)