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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas announced on Saturday that the acquisition of forward Ryan O’Reilly from the St. Louis Blues in a bid to help them win the Stanley Cup.
After news of the Maple Leafs’ trade for O’Reilly broke Friday night, Dubas told reporters:
“The team was in the top five in the standings (before); we are there again this year. When you are there, your goal, I think, is that you want to win. And if you there. want to win, you want to win the Stanley Cup. We want to win, and that’s the message. Anything short of that, we’re all going to be disappointed.”
Along with O’Reilly, the Maple Leafs also acquired forward Noel Acciari while sending their own 2023 first-round pick, the Ottawa Senators’ 2023 third-round pick, their own 2024 second-round pick and sent Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette on to St. .Louis.
The Minnesota Wild also participated in the trade as a third team, taking 25 percent of O’Reilly’s salary and receiving a 2025 fourth-round pick from the Leafs. The Wild also sent minor league forward Josh Pillar to Toronto.
The Blues acquired O’Reilly ahead of the 2018/19 season, and he was instrumental in St. Louis won its first Stanley Cup in franchise history that year.
O’Reilly set career highs with 28 goals and 49 assists for 77 points in the regular season and then recorded 23 points in 26 playoff games, earning the Conn Smythe Award as postseason MVP.
His production has since declined, however, and he is arguably in the midst of the worst season of his career.
O’Reilly had between 54 and 61 points in three straight seasons from 2019 to 2022, and was also a cumulative plus-48 in those campaigns.
In 40 games this season, O’Reilly has only 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points, and is a minus-24, which would be the worst mark of his 14-year career.
The 32-year-old veteran may have fallen out of favor and never return to prominence, but the Leafs expect him to be a victim of a struggling team in St. Louis this season.
In Toronto, O’Reilly will have a much better supporting cast, led by Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander and Michael Bunting.
O’Reilly could play on the wing on one of the Leafs’ top two lines, or he could be a third-line center because of his two-way game and defensive responsibility.
Either way, he brings a wealth of playoff experience to the table, and knows what it takes to win a Cup, something Toronto hasn’t experienced since 1967.
Despite consistently being among the NHL’s most talented teams and near the top of the regular-season standings in recent years, the Maple Leafs have repeatedly failed in the playoffs.
Toronto has reached the playoffs in six straight seasons without winning a series. In fact, the Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Leafs had 74 points on the season, which is tied for fourth-most in the NHL.
Dubas needed to make a big move to overcome his team, and although it is not guaranteed to happen, O’Reilly is exactly the type of player who thrives in the atmosphere of the game.