- Ryan S. Clark is an NHL reporter for ESPN.
The St. Louis Blues have traded captain Ryan O’Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a three-team deal that also includes the Minnesota Wild, the teams announced Friday night.
O’Reilly, a center, heads to Toronto along with forward Noel Acciari. In exchange, St. Louis receives prospect Mikhail Abramov, forward Adam Gaudette, the Leafs’ 2023 first-round pick, the Ottawa Senators’ 2023 third-round pick and Toronto’s 2024 second-round pick.
The Wild send forward Josh Pillar, a 2019 fourth-round pick by Minnesota, to Toronto, and receive the Leafs’ 2025 fourth-round pick in return. Pillar has 12 points in 12 games with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades.
O’Reilly, who will be a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, carries a $7.5 million cap hit. St. Louis will retain 50% of O’Reilly’s salary, while Minnesota will retain an additional 25%. The 32-year-old O’Reilly, who has 12 goals and 19 points in 40 games, returned to the lineup Feb. 11 after sustaining a broken foot Dec. 31 in a game against the Wild.
Adding O’Reilly gives the Maple Leafs one of the most prominent names ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Above all, this means they now have a two-way veteran who in 2019 won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Selke Trophy as the league’s best offensive forward. His arrival further strengthens what the Leafs already have down the middle with Auston Matthews and John Tavares in what they expect will be a move that heightens the Stanley Cup aspirations for a franchise that has not won a title since 1967, and has not made it out of the first round of the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.
Getting Acciari in the deal gives the Leafs another middle-to-bottom six forward who can provide a bit of a scoring punch, as he has 10 goals and 18 points in 54 games. Acciari also gives the Leafs another proven two-way forward who, in addition to O’Reilly, can be used to help a Leafs penalty kill that ranks 14th in the NHL with a 80.6% success rate.
For the Blues, the decision to move on from O’Reilly had been anticipated after they traded veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko on Feb. 9 to the New York Rangers. The Blues’ attempt to reach one more postseason with pending UFAs such as O’Reilly and Tarasenko faced challenges. Lengthy winning and losing streaks were among the contributing factors for why they struggled to find consistency and fall further behind in the Western Conference playoff chase.
Going into Saturday, the Blues were eight points out of the final wild-card spot in the West. Meanwhile, the Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division but are 13 points adrift of the Boston Bruins, the team with the best record in NHL.
The Blues now own nine picks in this year’s draft, with three of them coming in the first round alone.
Abramov, who was a fourth-round pick in 2019 by the Leafs, has yet to play in the NHL and has spent this season with their AHL affiliate, where he has 10 goals and 27 points in 57 games.
Gaudette, who has played more than 200 NHL games, has spent the entire season in the AHL, where he has scored 20 goals and 33 points in 39 games. Abramov will have one more season left on his current deal after this year, whereas Gaudette will be a pending restricted free agent this offseason.
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