Breaking Down the Full Ryan O’Reilly Acquisition for the Maple Leafs

St.Louis Blue center Ryan O'Reilly Skating on to Ice During Introduction
St.Louis Blue center Ryan O'Reilly Skating on to Ice During Introduction Photo credit: Christopher Mast/NHL via Getty Images

Late last night, Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas decided to take the hockey world by storm, acquiring St.Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, forward Noel Acciari, and Minnesota Wild prospect Josh Pillar in return for Adam Gaudette, Mikhail Abramov, 2023 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fourth-round pick which will be heading to Minnesota. The three-team trade was a significant move made by the Maple Leafs management and surely an addition that shows the Maple Leafs are all in. 

Since there’s a lot to break down with this massive acquisition, let’s separate it into certain parts. I will start with the financials and then go through each player the blue and white acquired. The Maple Leafs did give up some serious draft capital but make no mistake; this trade is a significant upgrade to the National Hockey League roster. 

The Financials

With the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly and his $7,500,000 cap hit, Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas needed some help with retention. The St.Louis Blues have retained fifty percent of the 32-year-old’s contract, while the Minnesota Wild are paying twenty-five percent of that, putting the veteran center at a $1,875,000 value. Without a doubt, that’s a tremendous value for Ryan, but also why the Maple Leafs had to give up so many futures.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ryan O’Reilly 

When breaking down the players Kyle acquired, it’s not a shock to say the deal was built around Ryan O’Reilly. The 32-year-old center has had quite the career with the St.Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and the Buffalo Sabres. The former Stanley Cup champion has twelve goals and seven assists for nineteen points through forty games, despite missing quite some time with a foot injury. The former Colorado Avalanche second-round pick has two-hundred and fifty-two career goals and four-hundred and thirty-nine assists for sixty-hundred and ninety-one points throughout his National Hockey League career. 

This move gives the Leafs strength down the middle, which has been my area of concern with the Maple Leafs roster this season. Ryan O’Reilly was initially the player I wanted Kyle Dubas to acquire for a plethora of reasons. First, his face-off winning percentage of fifty-four percent is a significant upgrade! For a Maple Leafs team whose system revolves so much around puck possession, adding a player who’s good in the face-off circle while also having a dominant thirty-six takeaways to eight giveaways is game-changing. The 32-year-old from Clinton, Ontario, brings so much good to a Maple Leafs team that’s set to make some noise this April. 

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Noel Acciari

The next player Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas decided to bring in was the 31-year-old Noel Acciari. Acciari has spent time with the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and the St.Louis Blues in his career. The versatile forward can play down the middle and on the wing in a pinch. Bringing good speed and some grit to the bottom six, something tells me the style of play in which the 31-year-old plays will grow rather fondly with Leafs nation. Noel has one hundred sixty-eight hits this season and draws many more penalties than he takes. The former Blues forward also has fifty-five blocks, a dominant takeaways-to-giveaways ratio, and a fifty-three percent face-off win percentage. Acciari might not be the biggest asset in the acquisition, but make no mistake; his impact will be felt. 

Photo Credit: Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports

Josh Pillar

The final piece of this trade is definitely the most under the radar, but don’t sleep on Josh Pillar. After getting drafted in 2021 by the Minnesota Wild, the 21-year-old Saskatoon Blade has strong skating ability with some real speed. Pillar was a fourth-round pick by the Wild and has spent his development time in the Western Hockey League. This season with Saskatoon, Pillar has four goals and eight assists for twelve points through thirteen games. The dynamic forward also brings some physical traits and a unique blend of skills to add to the Maple Leafs prospect pipeline. Josh Pillar likely won’t make an impact this season with the Maple Leafs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he contributed to the Marlies a lot sooner. The 21-year-old forward doesn’t bring over much size, but he certainly doesn’t play small. Pillar was out with a lower-body injury for quite some time but did return this week for the Blades. 

At the end of the day, this was precisely the move I wanted from Kyle Dubas. Likely heading into a playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning again, it was crucial to get stronger down the middle. Adding two players with so many good puck possession traits, on top of not losing any of the top prospects, is a significant win for the Maple Leafs! Obviously, this move shows that all of the Maple Leafs trade chips are in play, and to be honest, and I don’t think they’re done just yet. Keep an eye out for Kyle Dubas because something tells me he’s looking to add quickly before Friday, March 3rd. 

Thanks for reading, for more hockey content, follow me on Twitter at ITR_Anselmo!

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Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

4 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Full Ryan O’Reilly Acquisition for the Maple Leafs

  1. This was an amazing write up! Super excited to see ROR in action, and especially excited to see the grit both ROR and Acciari can bring

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