Ryan O’Reilly would be the Rangers perfect center trade target

ryan o'reilly
Jan 11, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) handles the puck during the first period against the New York Rangers at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues were ousted in four straight by the Colorado Avalanche. Whenever a team loses that badly, there’s bound to be some changes. This offseason, teams need to deal with the Seattle Expansion draft before thinking about free agents and/or trades.

That’s the case for the Blues as they need to figure out what to do with RFA defenseman Vince Dunn and UFA’s like Jaden Schwartz. Do they bring back Mike Hoffman? What about cap space and maybe trying to get younger? How about the fate of head coach Craig Berube? Like I said, lots of questions now.

Ryan O’Reilly unlikely to be traded, but what if?

The Blues trade rumor mill is buzzing around Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29 year-old has two years left on his contract that comes with an AAV of $7.5 million. That’s the guy St. Louis would like to move in a deal, but with his history of injury and full no-move clause that would be difficult.

If the Blues wanted to really change things up, create cap space and build towards the future Ryan O’Reilly is the logical choice. But would they really trade their captain? It’s unlikely, but after getting swept I’d pick up the phone and gauge St. Louis interest in making a blockbuster deal.

O’Reilly is 30 years-old and has two years at $7.5 million on his current deal. He does not have any trade restrictions so the Blues could shop him and get maximum return. With the Rangers interest in Jack Eichel cooled, this could be the type of center they want.

The cost of acquisition would also be high, maybe not as high as Eichel but big enough. St. Louis would want a player like Ryan Strome back to replace O’Reilly down the middle. They are also in the market for a back up and the means Alexandar Georgiev needs to be part of it. Then they will want prospects like Vitali Kravtsov and Zac Jones as well. Maybe Vince Dunn could be part of this deal? This is all spitballing but it’s to demonstrate that this wouldn’t be a small trade.

ryan o'reilly
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

O’Reilly would automatically be the Rangers top leader

O’Reilly was asked after being swept if the Avs were simply a better team to which he replied, “Oh, clearly.” He also went into detail on how this series loss was his fault.

“I’m very disappointed in myself; it was pretty pathetic,” the Blues captain said. “I didn’t really do much this series. If I’m not doing my job, I can’t expect anyone else to do theirs, so it’s tough. I have to obviously improve and especially in the crucial times, it’s very disappointing.”


The Rangers have a nice leadership group, but O’Reilly has respect around the NHL as a top captain. It would be easy for him to come in and get the C sewn on his jersey immediately. It would also keep the pressure off others like Mika Zibanejad or Artemi Panarin from the larger responsibility so they can focus on scoring.

Bottom line, this is just wishful thinking unless the Blues say they are going to make some serious changes. Even if they did, trading O’Reilly wouldn’t make sense. The point here is that he represents the exact type of center the Rangers need to acquire to make the next step to contender.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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