Should the Boston Bruins target St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly on the NHL trade market?
An NHL trade sweepstakes for the 31-year-old pivot who won the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy and helped the Blues win the 2019 Stanley Final over the Bruins in seven games is about to begin. On the latest TSN Insider Trading episode, TSN NHL insider Darren Dreger reported that O’Reilly is ‘officially’ on the NHL trade market with the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline five weeks from this Friday.
“The Ryan O’Reilly speculation started prior to the beginning of the NHL regular season and it has continued, but the St. Louis Blues have reached the point in the regular season that they genuinely want to gauge the interest around the NHL in the star pending-unrestricted free agent forward,” Dreger said.
“We know he’s hurt, he’s going to a be out for a while and it’s still early because the Blues, like all clubs who are looking at the playoff picture, don’t know if they are willing to go all in yet. But the ask for Ryan O’Reilly is going to be similar what normally would be for a player of similar stature – you’re talking about draft picks, you’re talking about a prospect, the draft pick could be determined by the quality of the prospect so, it is again still early, but Ryan O’Reilly is officially in play.”
O’Reilly is currently on injured reserve, and as Dreger pointed out, likely not coming back until at least after the all-star break. How that affects the cost for him on the NHL trade market is yet to be seen. Clearly though, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants to do his due diligence now so he has a solid idea of who’s interested and what they’re willing to offer for O’Reilly. When healthy, O’Reilly hasn’t exactly been the premiere two-way and physical presence he’s been for the last seven seasons, and has just 10 goals and six assists in 37 games. O’Reilly is in the last year of a seven-year contract that carried a $7.5M AAV.
The read here is that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who we’re told continues to scour the NHL trade market, will definitely give Armstrong a call to see what a trade package for O’Reilly would cost. However, if that cost is similar to the much younger and Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat, and Sweeney, which we’re told he does, has interest in extending a player he acquires, then why go for the older O’Reilly?
As reported here last week, Sweeney was one of many NHL GM’s that has reached out to the Canucks about Bo Horvat. Many around the NHL don’t seem to think the Bruins have the prospect arsenal they would need to send back for the the 6-foot, 215-pound, 27-year-old pivot who has 30 goals and 48 points in 43 games this season. Horvat, like O’Reilly can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He’s in the final season of a six-year contract he signed as a restricted free agent in 2017 and that carries a $5.5 million AAV.
Even with the news that O’Reilly is available on the NHL trade market now, Horvat should, and likely is a bigger target for the Boston Bruins. That’s not to say O’Reilly may not become a solid plan B but that will depend on whether or not the Bruins can land Horvat or a bigger fish.