Sabres Trade O’Reilly to the Blues
The Buffalo Sabres have traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Tage Thompson, plus a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-rounder in 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues get themselves one of the best two-way centers in the league. The Sabres get a return that helps them now and for the future.
The Blues had already taken steps to bolster their depth at forward via free agency today by bringing back left wing David Perron and signing center Tyler Bozak. They now have O’Reilly, Bozak and Brayden Schenn at center, with promising Robert Thomas waiting in the wings. In one day, they’ve turned a weakness into a strength.
O’Reilly, 27, plays well at both ends of the ice and has exceeded 50 points in six of the last seven seasons. The former Lady Byng Trophy winner can also play on the power-play or penalty kill. He should be a welcome addition to a Blues team trying to get back into Cup contender status following a disappointing 2017-18 performance.
Sobotka and Berglund should provide some much-needed veteran depth to the Sabres’ checking lines. The 31-year-old Sobotka is a hardworking defensive forward. Berglund,30, can play center or either wing and has decent offensive skills, though he does have an injury history.
Thompson,20, could become part of the Sabres’ long-term future. He made his NHL debut last season, tallying just nine points in 41 games. A promising young winger with good size (6’5″, 215 pounds) and offensive potential, Thompson could get an opportunity to shine in Buffalo.
Even though the Blues take on O’Reilly’s $7.5-million annual cap hit, by shedding the combined salaries of Berglund, Sobotka and Thompson, they actually save $775K in cap space. They now have just over $71 million invested in 18 players for 2018-19.