St. Louis Blues acquire Ryan O'Reilly from Sabres in exchange for picks, players
The blockbuster trade appears to be a win-win for both clubs
That's a fair haul for O'Reilly, who was expected to be dealt in the coming days. The 27-year-old center is a very good two-way player down the middle -- and one of the league's best face-off men -- but trade rumors have surrounded him recently because of his big salary and Buffalo's rebuilding roster.
O'Reilly signed a seven-year, $52.5 million deal with Buffalo in 2015 and has been one of the team's few consistently impressive performers over the past three years. He recorded 65 goals and 176 points in 224 games with the Sabres over the past three seasons.
The Blues, who could use the upgrade at center, were willing to assume the $7.5 million signing bonus O'Reilly was due on July 1, plus the $7.5 million annual cap hit he'll carry for the next five seasons. They'll now have O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak (added in free agency on Sunday) down the middle in their top six. That's very solid.
Despite his proven success, O'Reilly became expendable because of Buffalo's emerging promising younger duo of centers in Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt. This deal allows the Sabres to flip O'Reilly into some valuable future assets (the picks and Thompson) while avoiding his payout and adding roster players during the rebuild.
Berglund and Sobotka have struggled in St. Louis and have unattractive contracts -- Berglund carries a $3.85 million cap hit for the next four seasons, while Sobotka will carry a $3.5 million cap hit for the next two. Maybe they'll benefit from a change of scenery, but either way the contracts won't sink the Sabres while they continue to reshape their roster and build around a young core that now also includes top 2018 draft pick Rasmus Dahlin.
The 20-year-old Thompson was St. Louis' first-round pick in 2016. He's a big, promising young center but not nearly the best youngster that the Blues boast in their pipeline. Thompson struggled a bit in his first NHL season last season, scoring just three goals and nine points in 41 games.
From an immediate standpoint, this looks like a win-win for both clubs. St. Louis gets an impressive impact player who will improve their club both in the short and long term, and Buffalo sheds a huge long-term financial commitment while also adding picks and a prospect to their future assets. They have to take on a couple of tough contracts during their rebuild, but that's the price for St. Louis paying O'Reilly in full.
That being said, It does make one wonder what Buffalo might have gotten in exchange for O'Reilly had they been willing to pay out O'Reilly's bonus themselves.
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