The NHL trade deadline is always an insane time for hockey teams, players, and fans. But trades before the deadline, such as Friday night’s Ryan O’Reilly blockbuster trade, can also be chaotic.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to make a major splash. However, was O’Reilly the right move? Did the St. Louis Blues get enough in return? How about the third team, the Minnesota Wild? Here are our Ryan O’Reilly trade grades.
This trade is a bit complicated, considering the third “broker” team. There are a lot of moving parts. Essentially, here’s how the trade breaks down.
The St. Louis Blues, retaining 50% of his cap hit, traded forward Ryan O’Reilly to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Josh Pillar. The Wild, retaining 25% of his remaining cap hit, then traded O’Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2025 fourth-round pick.
The Blues then traded Pillar and forward Noel Acciari to the Maple Leafs. In return, St. Louis acquired forwards Adam Gaudette and Mikhail Abramov. Furthermore, the Blues acquired Toronto’s 2023 first-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick Toronto previously acquired from the Ottawa Senators, and Toronto’s 2024 second-round pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Ryan O’Reilly
The Maple Leafs, for better or worse, made a huge splash with this trade. Moving six assets in any trade is a big move, regardless of the circumstances.
As it pertains to this trade, the logic makes sense. Both Acciari and O’Reilly have experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In fact, the two played each other in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals when the Blues played the Boston Bruins.
O’Reilly’s Blues triumphed over Acciari’s Bruins in that Final. O’Reilly skated away with both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Both forwards know what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs. This is something the Maple Leafs haven’t done. Toronto has not won a playoff series since 2004.
In that respect, this is a quality move. It’s also a quality move when you consider what the Leafs need. Toronto needs help defensively, and they need a bit more of an edge on the ice, especially around the playoffs.
O’Reilly is a very good defensive forward despite an up-and-down season this year. He is a heart-and-soul type of player who provides leadership no matter his place in the lineup.
Acciari is not a point-producing forward. He has seven points in 54 playoff games. But he adds an edge the Maple Leafs need. He will push back against the likes of Pat Maroon in the postseason.
All that said, the price is a bit steep. O’Reilly’s point production is way down this season, as he’s recorded just 19 games. He has three points in three games since returning from injury, but he didn’t produce much before the injury to begin with.
Whether Toronto does well hinges on their playoff performance. If they win a playoff series and go on a run, this is a monumental move for them. If they suffer another first-round exit, this is a huge overpayment. For now, though, the Maple Leafs have done just fine.
St. Louis Blues trade Ryan O’Reilly
The main part of this deal for the Blues is the three draft picks they received. All of them are early-round picks, and two of them come this year in the midst of what promises to be a deep draft.
The players the Blues receive are fine. Gaudette has NHL experience and is producing well in the AHL, but won’t move the needle if called up to St. Louis. Abramov, a fourth-round pick in 2019, is 21 years old and could develop into an NHL regular with time.
The Blues did well to receive as much as they did. O’Reilly is a declining asset and a pending free agent. Acciari isn’t a bad player, but he also isn’t a world-beater. Getting five assets, four of which could be huge for their future, for these two is a brilliant move on the part of GM Doug Armstrong.
Minnesota Wild facilitate Ryan O’Reilly trade
There isn’t much to say about the Wild’s involvement here. Minnesota essentially buys a 2025 draft pick in order to make this deal go through for the Blues and Maple Leafs.
However, it is worth noting the player they gave up in this deal. Josh Pillar is a big forward playing junior hockey for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He has 12 points in 13 games so far this season.
The Wild recently drafted Pillar, picking him up in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Clearly, the team didn’t see a fit with him in their AHL team, so he heads to Toronto where he could slot into the Marlies’ lineup.
All told, Minnesota does well. They take advantage of having an extra bit of cap space to add to their future draft capital. Adding future draft capital is never a bad thing.
Final thoughts and Ryan O’Reilly trade grades
None of the three teams in this trade come out of this looking terribly. St. Louis gets the highest of the Ryan O’Reilly trade grades of any team for receiving as much as they did given their position. And the Wild receive high marks for buying a draft pick.
The Maple Leafs also receive high marks, but this grade can age terribly in the future. Toronto has added pressure to win a playoff series and take that weight off their shoulders.
O’Reilly won’t be expected to play a major role despite the price. His offensive production could go up with a better supporting cast. However, the Maple Leafs mainly need him to be a defensive presence while providing leadership when they need it most. In that sense, O’Reilly perfectly fits the bill.
Toronto Maple Leafs grade: B
St. Louis Blues grade: A
Minnesota Wild grade: B