BREAKING: Ryan O'Reilly has been traded to St. Louis

July 1, 2018

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres didn’t pull any surprises in free agency, but they did trade Ryan O’Reilly. The center goes to St. Louis before the Sabres had to pay the $7.5 million bonus to him.

The Sabres get a first round pick in 2019, a second rounder in 2021, the Blues' first round pick in 2016 center Tage Thompson, veteran center Patrik Berglund and veteran winger Vladimir Sabotka. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said this trade had been brewing for a long time, “Doug Armstrong and I in the last couple of months have had a lot of good conversations and they intensified in the last few days.

“St. Louis had done a great job of drafting and had some really good prospects that we were very interested in and from our standpoint, getting the first round pick and potentially having three first round picks next year was a big thing and getting a young winger in Tage Thompson who we think can step into the NHL and grow with our centermen.”

Many folks including myself felt O’Reilly needed a change of scenery, but Botterill disagrees, “No, I don’t think he needed a change of scenery at all, but we have discussed over the past couple of months about making adjustments to our team and you look at the age of a lot of our young players, they’re more of the 18 to 23 age, it just didn’t mix in with Ryan from that standpoint.

“We felt in our meeting as a management group, we had to change the dynamic. The bottom line was there’s a lot of great people in that locker-room, but when you finish 31st, you have to look to make changes and that’s why we felt it was a good balance in making this move.”

Had the trade not be made by midnight, the Sabres would’ve paid O’Reilly’s $7.5 million bonus instead of the Blues. Botterill admitted that went into it, “That was part of it, if it went past midnight today, the asking price was certainly going to be a lot different. You never want to say never, but yes, it played a role in making sure the deal was done today.”  

Thompson is 20-years-old and is 6' 5". He's played 41 NHL games, scoring three goals and six assists for nine points. In 46 AHL games, he has nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points. Thompson played two seasons at UConn.

Berglund just turned 30 and was the Blues' first round pick in 2006. In 694 NHL games, Berglund has 168 goals and 154 assists for 322 points. Last season, the 6' 4" center played 57 games and had 17 goals.

Sabotka is also 30-years-old and has only been back in the NHL for two seasons after spending three years in the KHL. In 463 NHL games, Sabotka has 47 goals and 108 assists for 155 points. Last season in 81 games, he had 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points. Sabotka was drafted in the fourth round by Boston in 2005.