The St. Louis Blues finally acquired a top center, landing Ryan O’Reilly in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. The deal, which you can read my initial thoughts on here, completely transforms how the Blues look on offense while also cutting a couple of the more pesky contracts from the roster.
The Blues already have some interesting ideas for O’Reilly, including one scenario where they don’t even use him as a center.
That’s a fascinating comment for a couple of reasons.
First, it shows off the huge amount of confidence that the Blues already have in Robert Thomas. It’s early, but the Blues already sound like they want to use Thomas on the team’s top line even though he’s never skated in an NHL game. That’s confidence. No wonder why they didn’t want to include him in a deal for O’Reilly.
Next, it’s kind of hilarious that the Blues landed an outstanding two-way center in O’Reilly and may use him on the wing. It’s not like this team has been dying for a top center for years, or anything. But seriously, O’Reilly does have experience playing on the wing, so the Blues could use him in a variety of ways. He’ll be a big improvement wherever he skates.
However the Blues use O’Reilly, they should plan on deploying him for faceoffs. O’Reilly is one of the NHL’s best on draws, winning 59.98% of his draws in 2017-18. Specifically, he won 1,274 of 2,124. Both of those numbers were the most in the NHL. On the power play, O’Reilly was even better in the circle, winning 61.8%.
Whatever ends up happening, let’s all be thankful the Blues finally have some help up front.