What the Maple Leafs get in big trade for Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari

Late on Friday evening, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas took his big swing at the trade desk in 2023 — the greatest swap of his tenure.

It was a three-team trade that concerned the St. Louis Blues, and the Minnesota Wild for wage retention. In the trade, Toronto despatched prospect Mikhail Abramov, AHL ahead Adam Gaudette, their 2023 first-rounder and 2024 second-rounder, and Ottawa’s 2023 third-rounder to the St. Louis Blues, and received Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari in return. The Blues retained 50 per cent of O’Reilly’s $7.5 million cap hit. The Leafs additionally despatched the Wild their very own 2025 fourth-round choose to retain an extra 50 per cent of O’Reilly’s cap hit, which means the Leafs get the defensive ahead for simply $1.875 million towards the cap.

Curiously, each O’Reilly and Acciari are pending UFAs, which had been the type of belongings Dubas lately mentioned he wouldn’t transfer his first-rounder for.

“With regard to leases, I can’t see that occuring,” Dubas mentioned of transferring his first-rounder or prospect Matthew Knies.

That is the big splash the Leafs had been after, although, and these two gamers add a lot better lineup flexibility, expertise, and particular components that are likely to shine by way of even brighter in post-season hockey.

In O’Reilly, the Leafs get somebody who has been one among the finest defensive forwards in the league for years, a Selke Trophy winner in 2019 who has been a top-five finalist for the award 4 years working. He’s wonderful on the faceoff and shall be a big presence on the PK.

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The added bonus on O’Reilly is that the Leafs can use him in a few totally different locations, relying on how they wish to line match. O’Reilly may begin as the third-line centre and transfer David Kampf right down to the fourth, or he may very well be positioned on the second line as the left winger (or, probably, bump John Tavares to the flank).

And whereas O’Reilly is having a down yr like the remainder of the Blues, there’s purpose to imagine he may bounce again offensively on a greater line. O’Reilly excelled subsequent to David Perron final yr with 37 assists, however hasn’t had the identical sort of finisher with him this season and has simply seven assists in 40 video games.

When O’Reilly was on the ice at 5-on-5 this season, the Blues had a crew capturing share of simply 7.97, the lowest mark of his profession since he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Equally, Blues goalies struggled to only an .872 save share with O’Reilly on the ice at 5-on-5 — by far the lowest of his complete profession.

So is O’Reilly’s struggles the results of a 32-year-old participant displaying decline, or is it not less than partly attributable to some unhealthy luck and grinding by way of on a non-playoff crew?

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Dubas is betting on the latter.

O’Reilly missed over a month of video games in 2023 with a damaged foot, however has returned to play three video games and posted a degree in every, displaying no lingering results.

The final time O’Reilly was traded — from Buffalo to St. Louis — he went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Blues gained the Stanley Cup.

These Leafs hope to be so fortunate.

In Acciari, the Leafs get a bottom-six grinder who can block photographs, throw his physique round and, like O’Reilly, both be used to win faceoffs down the center, or as a presence on the wing.

With out a lot cap area remaining, Dubas has taken his big minimize with this trade and, seemingly, has given a vote of confidence to his group of blueliners. Positive the Leafs may nonetheless add some depth to that place, however the GM determined he wanted extra of a bodily presence and centre depth up entrance, and a few valued post-season expertise besides.

If the Leafs are to make one other big transfer in the final couple of weeks earlier than the March 3 deadline, it could require one other roster participant or two to maneuver out.

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So are O’Reilly and Acciari the reply for a crew trying to break by way of with post-season success? Are these the items the Leafs wanted to get a leg up on divisional foes Boston and (seemingly first-round opponent) Tampa Bay?

Scout Jason Bukala shares his ideas on the deal…

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Armchair common managers who additionally contemplate themselves die-hard Maple Leafs followers are buzzing following Toronto’s trade with the St.Louis Blues.

I’m not right here to fan the flames, however I’m comfy presenting the execs and cons of this deal and what it means for the Leafs this spring – and into the future.


That is what an “all-in” roster appears to be like like:

Picture courtesy CapFriendly

Picture courtesy CapFriendly

Picture courtesy CapFriendly

After this trade, the Leafs now have 9 gamers on their roster who will develop into unrestricted free brokers this summer season.

The Leafs’ most urgent RFA situation exists with Ilya Samsonov. If the crew goes on what they hope shall be an extended playoff run, Samsonov shall be trying for a elevate this low season as properly.

Draft Capital

Maintaining with the “all-in” theme, here’s what is left of the Leafs’ draft board for the subsequent three seasons:

Out of a potential 9 picks over the first three rounds of the subsequent three drafts, Toronto is left with a complete of 4 now. The excellent news is that they nonetheless have their first-round picks in 2024 and 2025. One other layer of unhealthy information is that they solely have one among their fourth-round picks in the subsequent three drafts.

The draft cabinets are naked.

A narrative for one other day is the actuality that the Leafs have little or no coming by way of their prospect pipeline, too. Having mentioned that, they didn’t embrace Matthew Knies (their high prospect) in the take care of the Blues, and that’s a constructive.

Simply the information

1. Including Noel Acciari in this deal can’t be understated. He was main the Blues with 168 hits. His bodily presence, and suppleness to play each the wing and the center, is a major add for the Leafs.

2. Who led the Leafs in hits this season earlier than including Acciari? Wouldn’t it shock you to listen to it’s Rasmus Sandin with 113?

3. Essentially the most bodily punishing Leafs ahead thus far this season has been Zach Aston-Reese, who has 112 hits, adopted by John Tavares (80) and Auston Matthews (60).

4. Sheldon Keefe and his workers run set performs off face-offs throughout the ice. Including Ryan O’Reilly and his 54 per cent success price will help with sport planning. Acciari isn’t far behind. He’s gained 53 per cent of his attracts this season.

5. Particular groups (and goaltending!) can win playoff collection on their very own. O’Reilly averages over 18 minutes of ice time and simply slides into the Leafs particular crew models. Acciari averages simply shy of quarter-hour of ice time. I might be stunned to see him on one among the Leafs power-play models, however he will certainly add a layer to their penalty kill.

6. Acciari isn’t an enormous shot blocker. He’s been credited with 55 thus far this season. However it must be reassuring to know Matthews doesn’t have to guide the crew in the class going ahead. Matthews at the moment sits with the most shot blocks by a Leaf ahead with 65. Extremely, Alex Kerfoot and Aston-Reese are tied for second with solely 32 blocks. Shot blocks are a big a part of the sacrifice come playoff time.

7. I’m involved about O’Reilly’s foot velocity. He’s definitely not a burner in open ice. What I’m not involved about is his management and character. He’s a Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner.

8. O’Reilly’s foot velocity solely issues if the linemates he performs with are usually not transporting the puck in transition. I anticipate a few burners flanking O’Reilly.

9. With all due respect to Adam Gaudette and Mikhail Abramov, time will inform in the event that they develop into extra of a storyline in this deal. In my view, they’re what they’re – organizational depth items and never NHL gamers.

10. Toronto provides prospect Josh Pillar in the deal. He’s an attention-grabbing piece to observe. Pillar may find yourself being a participant who can play an vitality sport at the professional stage. He competes and performs fast, however he’s not dynamic offensively.

11. The fourth-round choose that Toronto despatched to the Minnesota Wild in the trade was attributable to the truth the Leafs needed to tackle as little cap hit as potential in relation to O’Reilly. Minnesota absorbed $1.875 million of O’Reilly’s cap hit. Contemplating round 65 per cent of the salaries have been paid to gamers by this time in the yr, the Wild are on the books to pay solely roughly $657,000 of O’Reilly’s wage for the remainder of the season. The Wild primarily bought a fourth spherical choose in 2025 for that cash.

12. If the Leafs don’t win a playoff spherical this season this trade borders on catastrophic for the depth of the group.

Does the deal make sense?

Sure. It’s time to push all the chips in the center of the desk and see if this core is able to going to a different stage, or ranges. However one spherical just isn’t adequate come spring. This group has to go on a deep run.

Did the Leafs hand over an excessive amount of?

No. It’s time! They usually added to their NHL roster with out subtracting.

Abstract ideas

Way back, the group invested some huge cash, and hope, in their core forwards. They’ve constructed this crew round Matthews, Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. An argument may very well be made that Morgan Reilly can be a part of that core on the again finish.

The Leafs have tried including veteran leaders in the previous. Gamers like Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton (amongst others).

In addition they tried to develop into a more durable crew to play towards with Wayne Simmonds in the lineup.

Thus far, the outcomes converse for themselves. Toronto hasn’t completed something however common season success. And for the document, no person will bear in mind this crew in 20 years attributable to their regular-season level totals.

I like this trade. I really feel like the crew is nearer to the place it must be. It’ll, after all, be endlessly debated till Leafs Nation sees the outcomes they’re desperately hoping for this spring.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are actually a more durable crew to play towards after this trade. Buying Acciari and O’Reilly brings extra depth and roster flexibility.

Extra from Sportsnet

Fast Shifts: Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas swings for fences with O’Reilly trade

‘All in’: Hockey world stupefied by Maple Leafs’ blockbuster trade for O’Reilly

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