Ryan O’Reilly: The Biggest Early Factor in the Blues Lineup

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04: St. Louis Blues' Ryan O'Reilly on the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game between the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets on October 4, 2018, at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Just over one full month into the 2018-2019 NHL season, the St. Louis Blues are currently 6-6-3. That is a pretty mediocre record compared to where general manager Doug Armstrong predicted the Blues would be at this point in the season. The Blues have been playing the way they know they can in those six wins. That is in large part courtesy of the play of Blues newcomer Ryan O’Reilly.

Operation O’Reilly

The St. Louis Blues made a series of roster upgrades at the start of free agency on July 1st during this past off-season. However, none of those moves were bigger than the trade that brought former Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong orchestrated what could be the biggest trade in recent Blues history. Armstrong sent forwards Patrik BerglundVladimir Sobotka, and Tage Thompson to Buffalo in exchange for O’Reilly. Armstrong and Sabres general manager Jason Botterill went back and forth multiples times before common ground was met, and a deal was finally made.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong reportedly had interest in O’Reilly at the 2018 trade deadline in February. The Sabres were unwilling to part ways with him at that time though.

Early Years

The 27 year old Clinton, Ontario native was drafted in the second round (33rd overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. O’Reilly spent his first six seasons with the Avalanche before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres before the start of the 2015-2016 season. O’Reilly contributed 90 goals over a 427 game span for Colorado.

After O’Reilly’s initial contract with Colorado had expired, things got a little rough between O’Reilly and management. O’Reilly signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames, which was immediately met by the Avalanche. Then, O’Reilly opted to stay in Russia after the 2012-13 NHL lockout ended until he received an offer from the Avalanche that he liked.

The Colorado Avalanche sent a package deal to the Buffalo Sabres in June of 2015. The deal included O’Reilly, and former Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn to Buffalo in exchange for a handful of draft picks and prospects.

Offensive Firepower

Ryan O’Reilly is a sniper. In his first 15 games wearing the Bluenote, he has 21 points. O’Reilly is currently riding a 10 game point streak. In the past 10 games, he has eight goals and nine assists for a combined 17 points. He has 26 shots in those past 10 games. Needless to say, he has carried the Blues in many games already this season.

The Blues will need O’Reilly to keep up his offensive onslaught if they want to have success this season. O’Reilly currently has won 62.5% of faceoffs he has taken this season. That percentage is the best on the Blues, and ranks 36th among NHL centers.

In a podcast epsiode with TSN Sports, O’Reilly was asked why the curve on his stick blade is so obscure. His answer was simple: He curves his stick that way to have an advantage in the faceoff circle with winning draws. It seems to certainly be helping him so far this season.

ryan o reilly
Ryan O’Reilly’s obscure stick curve that helps him win faceoffs. (Photo from Bardown)







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