The Buffalo Sabres have traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for forwards Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, and Vladimir Sobotka, a first-round pick in 2019, and a second-round pick in 2021.
The Blues get:
O’Reilly, a 27-year-old center who will be moving to his third NHL team. He has been a consistent 55- to 65-point scorer over his last six full NHL seasons, while providing at least 20 goals and 20 power-play points in four of his last five seasons. O’Reilly also won more faceoffs (1274) than any player in 2017-18 with 60 percent of his faceoffs won. He had been rumored to be on the trade block, with St. Louis as a possible destination.
The Sabres get:
A handful of forwards and draft picks.
Thompson was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in 2016, splitting 2017-18 between St. Louis and the AHL. Thompson scored nine points (3g-6a) in 41 games with the Blues.
Berglund was the Blues’ first-round pick (25th overall) ten seasons before Thompson. Although he was considered a top prospect at one time, Berglund cracked the 50-point barrier just once in his career (2010-11) and had not even reached the 40-point mark since that time.
Sobotka returned to the Blues in 2017-18 after spending the previous three seasons in the KHL. He scored 31 points (11g-20a) in 81 games.
Fantasy players impacted:
Armstrong said that in a perfect world, the #stlblues could get to Christmas and you could have Robert Thomas centering a line with maybe Tarasenko on the right and O'Reilly on the left. Then you have Bozak with Steen & Perron with Schenn/Schwartz. Wrap your head around those.— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) July 2, 2018
The forward lines may not actually turn out that way considering O’Reilly’s superior faceoff ability, but at least it gives you an idea of what the Blues’ top nine could look like. July 1 resulted in the Blues bringing in three forwards (O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron) and losing three in the trade, so Thomas is no more or less likely to make the team after the trade, just that he is less likely to play a significant role now. This acquisition could also push the newly signed Bozak (fantasy take here) down to the third line, and possibly even farther down the depth chart once Thomas is ready.
Berglund and Sobotka should slot in as middle-six forwards at best for the Sabres, with Thompson possessing the most potential upside. Surprisingly, the player that appeared on both of Thompson’s most common even-strength line combinations was Sobotka, with Berglund appearing on the second-most common even-strength line combination. So it wouldn’t be out of the question for the three former Blues to play on a line together in Buffalo! Thompson has the most to gain from this trade with a potential uptick in icetime from the 11:55 that he averaged last season.
Berglund and Sobotka should remain who we think they are: 30-point scorers who average about 16-17 minutes per game, though less forward depth in Buffalo could mean they take on a little more icetime themselves. These acquisitions (and that of Conor Sheary – fantasy take here) shouldn’t affect blue-chip prospect Casey Mittelstadt making the Sabres, but it might be enough to force Alexander Nylander to wait one more season.
21.8 JASKIN,DMITRIJ – SOBOTKA,VLADIMIR – THOMPSON,TAGE
16.3 BERGLUND,PATRIK – SOBOTKA,VLADIMIR – THOMPSON,TAGE
Fantasy players this helps, in order:
Ryan O’Reilly (better potential linemates in St. Louis)
Fantasy players this hurts, in order:
Tyler Bozak (mere hours after he is signed)
Alexander Nylander (single-season value)
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