ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues part ways with two more veterans, trading captain Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now two weeks away from the NHL trade deadline, the Blues have pulled the trigger on a high-profile trade for the second time in two weeks. St. Louis traded longtime star Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers on Feb. 9. Just eight days later, O’Reilly is on the move.
The Blues acquire Toronto’s 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick, along with Ottawa’s 2023 third-round pick in exchange for O’Reilly and Acciari. St. Louis will also pick up two farm-system forwards, Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette, in the trade.
O’Reilly departs from the Blues after five seasons, his last three as the 23rd captain in franchise history. His first season in St. Louis sparked an improbable ride to a Stanley Cup championship. That year, he scored 22 points over 26 playoff games, boosted by a four-game goal streak in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
O’Reilly’s first Blues campaign was also accolade-filled, as he earned the 2019 Conn Smythe Award as the best playoff performer, the Selke Award as the NHL’s best defensive forward and his first of two All-Star nods with the Blues.
The 32-year-old tallied 269 points (97 goals, 172 assists) over 327 regular-season games with the Blues. He also dominated on faceoffs, winning at a 56.8% career clip for St. Louis.
Aside from a recent foot injury that he just returned from last week and a brief absence from COVID-19 precautions last year, O’Reilly never missed a game for the Blues. He played 214 consecutive contests with the Blues from 2018-2021.
After the trades of O’Reilly and Tarasenko, the Blues roster only seven players from the 2019 Stanley Cup championship. Ivan Barbashev, Jordan Binnington, Robert Bortuzzo, Colton Parayko, Brayden Schenn, Robert Thomas and the recently-reacquired Sammy Blais are all that remain from that historic team.
O’Reilly, a native of Clinton, Canada, now joins a Toronto squad close to his hometown and bolstering some of the league’s top-scoring talents.
Even with the deal, O’Reilly could consider a new deal with St. Louis in free agency this offseason, similar to when Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight rejoined the Blues following trades to contenders in their contract years of the mid-2000s. Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reports there could be some interest in that, though it’s far from a guarantee.
In order to complete their latest trade, the Blues retained 50% of O’Reilly’s remaining cap hit and dealt a second center. Noel Acciari joined the Blues in free agency last summer and has proved valuable amid St. Louis’ struggles. He had 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists) over 54 games and led the Blues with 168 hits prior to his move.
Like O’Reilly and Tarasenko, Acciari was a pending unrestricted free agent. The recent trades, following a few prolonged losing streaks that currently place the Blues outside the playoff picture, may prompt a few more moves before the trade deadline.
St. Louis has one more notable pending UFA forward remaining in Ivan Barbashev, who has also been subject to trade buzz in recent weeks. Trade deadline is set for March 3.