The Sabres ended the first day of free agency with a trade. Not just any trade either. They finally dealt top 6 center Ryan O’ Reilly to the St. Louis Blues. Rumors of a trade surronding O’ Reilly have swirrled for weeks and when he wasn’t dealt at the draft many started to think a trade was unlikely. The Montreal Canadiens were the main team linked to O’ Reilly, but the Blues eventually emerged as a favorite to land him. Sabres GM Jason Botterill held his ground on O’Reilly not allowing a team to low ball him. He ended up walking away with more than most could have asked for in return for a player who clearly wanted a fresh start. Here are four takeaways from the Ryan O’Reilly trade.
Four Takeaways From the Ryan O’ Reilly Trade
1. Tage Thompson‘s Impact
The biggest name on the Blues side of the trade would be Tage Thompson. Thompson is a twenty year old center who was the twenty-fifth pick in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft. Thompson cracked the NHL roster on October 4th of this season. He scored his first point on a goal against Edmonton on December 21st. It was his sixth NHL game. Thompson played fourty-one games in the NHL for the Blues obtaining nine points in that span. Thompson is still developing into his role as an NHL center and will be a great fit for the Sabres as a bottom six center.
2. Team’s Message to the Locker Room
The trading of Ryan O’ Reilly is also a clear message to the Sabres locker room. Many fans lost faith is O’ Reilly following his comments at the end of the season. “I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times” O’ Reilly said. This was a shock to many who saw O’Reilly as a team leader seemingly having given up. His other comments about being ok with losing combined with this made many feel O’ Reilly did not want to be in Buffalo any longer. Trading O’Reilly sends a message to the locker room that players who do not want to be a part of the team or contribute to the solution will not be sticking around regardless of their talent level.
3. Changing the Culture of the Locker Room
This move is a good first step in changing the culture of the locker room as a whole. While removing the negativity and brightening the future outlook is a great start. Adding players like Sabotka and Berglund who have playoff experience helps plant the seeds for a winning mentality. The Sabres needed more veterans who have experience with winning. Something O’Reilly lacked. Ryan was traded to the Sabres from the Avalanche beacuse they were in a rough spot and looking to recoup on their assets. Now after a few years in Buffalo finds himself in the same position. Perhaps the Blues are the team that will end O’ Reilly’s streak of bad luck.
4. Three 2019 1st Round Picks Helps the Future
Possibly the most important aspect of the trade is that the Sabres now own three first round picks in the 2019 NHL draft. Other than their own, the Sabres owm the picks of San Jose and now St. Louis. These picks are crucial for the Sabres as the draft is set to be loaded with talent in the early round. Some of the leauge’s greatest young players have been in the back half of the first round. Most notably David Pastrnak and Matthew Barzal. Buffalo is on the fast track back to being a contender and these picks will bulk up the prospect pool for the Sabres future.