Ryan O'Reilly arrives in Toronto: “Kyle sends a strong message with this exchange” – John Tavares

Ryan O’Reilly lands in Toronto: “Kyle sends a strong message with this exchange” - John Tavares


TORONTO | John Tavares was asleep when the Maple Leafs completed a major trade with the St. Louis Blues just before 11:00 p.m. Friday. When he woke up, the captain of the Leafs learned of the arrivals of Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari.  

“I can say that it wakes you up when you read such news,” Tavares said a few hours before the game against the Canadian at Scotiabank Arena. Kyle (Dubas) sends a strong message with this exchange. He believes in our team and he knows what we want to achieve. »

“We are really happy with this transaction,” continued Tavares. We add two good players. In the case of Ryan, he is a center in the mold of Patrice Bergeron. It might not be the perfect comparison, but it does have a similar style. He's good in the face-off circle and he's an incredible competitor. He also has leadership qualities, he was the captain of the Blues. »

To cast out their demons

The Maple Leafs once again have big ambitions this year. Without winning the Stanley Cup since 1967, the Leafs dream of returning to the promised land. But before they want to drink champagne from the big bowl, they will have to make it through the first round of the playoffs, a feat they haven't achieved since 2004.

There is pressure to win at Toronto. And that pressure is felt now. Dubas knows very well that he cannot wait forever. He has to find a way to win with this core group of players. The young GM of the Leafs has taken a concrete step to improve his team by dealing with the Blues. 

He acquired O'Reilly, a former Frank-Selke Trophy (2019) and Stanley Cup winner with the Blues (2019). Noel Acciari, a 31-year-old forward, also packed his bags for Toronto. 

The Leafs gave up a 1st-round pick (2023), a 3rd-round pick (the Ottawa in 2023) and a 4th-round pick as well as Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette to the Blues. 

Dubas also paid a 2025 fourth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in that three-team deal . 

To lure O'Reilly to Toronto, Dubas needed some ingenuity and a calculator. The Blues will pay 50% of Ontario's salary and the Wild will pay 25% of their salary.

“We know the value of Ryan, he has a really impressive resume,” said Dubas. We get a guy who won the Stanley Cup and the Frank-Selke Trophy, but we also get a player who won the most prestigious trophy, but also the hardest to get in individual honors with the Conn-Smythe.&nbsp ;”

Kyle Dubas

“ In this exchange, we give several choices, but I preferred to offer choices than to sacrifice our best hopes, added the young GM of 37 years. When you give a choice, it's a bit like giving a mystery box, you can't know what you'll get. ”

O'Reilly, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, will complete a 7-year pact that earns him an average of $7.5 million. After the salary gymnastics in this trade, the veteran center's salary impact will be just 1.875 million on the Leafs' salary cap.  

The 32-year-old O'Reilly hit a wall this season statistically. In 40 games with the Blues, he has just 19 points (12 goals, 7 assists) and is -24. 

Best in playoffs

Sheldon Keefe also had a smile on his face as he stepped off the ice for an optional practice. 

“I had trouble sleeping last night, I was really excited and happy , said the head coach. I now have several options in the middle with the additions of Ryan and Noel. »

Sheldon Keefe

“In Ryan, we get a rare player who has a better point-per-game average in the playoffs than in the season,” he continued. And in Noel's case, he's another good competitor. The guys within the team were very excited about this other acquisition in the trade.

Since making his NHL debut in 2009-10, O'Reilly has 56 points in 64 playoff games (0.9 points per game) and 691 points in 978 season games (0. 71 points per game).

Several Ontarians

A native of Clinton, Ontario, O'Reilly will now have the chance to wear the jersey of the team of his childhood. 

The Maple Leafs have a large contingent with nine players from Southern Ontario, including Jake Muzzin who is on the injured list. And adding goaltender Matt Murray, who comes from Thunder Bay, that adds up to ten players from Ontario. 

“We grew up in the environment of the Leafs, it gives you perspective on the importance of this team,” said Tavares. 

So it's not just in Montreal where the origin of the players has a symbolism with Quebecers. In Toronto, we are experiencing the same phenomenon with Ontarians.