Player Profile: Ryan O’Reilly

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Mid -February was among us, and crickets could be heard around Leafs nation. Everyone was waiting for trade news. On February 17th, 2023, general manager Kyle Dubas gave us just what we were waiting for. The trade splash began when the Maple Leafs received Ryan O’Reilly from the Saint Louis Blues. Another hometown hero was set to make his debut for his hometown NHL team. Then Maple Leafs acquired O’Reilly and his teammate Noel Acciari. In exchange, the Blues would receive a 2023 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, and forward Adam Gaudette and Mikhail Abramov. This was a three-way trade that also included the Minnesota Wild. Saint Louis has retained 50% of O’Reilly’s $7.5 salary cap hit. Maple Leafs surrendered a fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for retaining 25% of O’Reilly’s salary.

Who is Ryan O’Reilly?

Ryan was born in Clinton, Ontario, Canada, on February 7th, 1991. That makes him 32 years of age today. His parents are Bonnie and Brian O’Reilly. Ryan is the younger brother of fellow professional hockey player Cal O’Reilly.

Ryan and their wife, Dayna, have two children, Jameson and Declan.

Early Days

In the early days, Ryan played hockey in Varna, Ontario, a city close to his hometown. He played for the Seafourth Stars in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. He soon moved up to the AAA level and played for the Huron Perth Lakers of the Minor Hockey alliance. After that arrival, O’Reilly played one year of minor hockey with the Toronto junior Canadiens in 2006-2007. Ryan continued playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters in the 2007-2008 season. O’Reilly was named rookie of the year as well as most sportsmanlike player. In that season, he finished having played 61 games and earning 52 points. He was named best penalty killer in the 2008-2009 season when he followed up with fifty assists and 66 points in 68 games that season.


The 2009 NHL Entry Draft would see O’Reilly being selected 33rd overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Ryan would be on the opening night roster of the 2009-2010 season and the youngest player in Avalanche history to appear in a regular season game. That game, played on October the first, 2009, against the San Jose Sharks, was when Ryan earned his first NHL point. O’Reilly would score his first NHL goal on October 15th against Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. This goal was also claimed as the game-winner. O’Reilly would finish October 2009 with a seven game point streak and a permanent spot on the Avalanche roster.

On February 2nd, 2010, Ryan became the first Avalanche player in history to score two short-handed goal in one game. That game was played against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

That same year he would make his first Stanley Cup playoff appearance in a 2-1 victory over the Sharks. It was game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals. Ryan would score his first playoff goal on April 18th, which was the game-winner.

That year Ryan O’Reilly set an Avalanche record with 101 takeaways. He also finished as the top scorer on the Avalanche with eighteen goals in 55 points.

In the summer of 2012, Ryan was a free agent. Contract discussions were delayed due to the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL players association, incurred in the 2012-2013 NHL lockout.

Exploring Internationally

During the lockout, Ryan and his brother co-signed a two year contract with the KHL in Russia. Ryan’s contract came with a conditional opt-out clause in case of an opportunity to return to the NHL.

The end of the lockout came in January 2013. However, Ryan stayed with his KHL team. A contract with the Colorado Avalanche could not be agreed upon. Soon after, he incurred an ankle injury and decided to return home to North America for rehabilitation. Once fully rehabilitated, O’Reilly spent some time training with the London Knights. The Calgary Flames presented Ryan with a two year $10 million offer sheet. The Colorado Avalanche matched the offer sheet. If Colorado didn’t match Calgary’s offer sheet, he would have had to pass through waivers before returning to the NHL.

Returning to NHL

Ryan returned to the Avalanche in the 2013-2014 season. He would record 28 goals and 64 points in 80 games as the Avalanche returned to the playoffs.

The Avalanche agreed to a settlement before an arbitration hearing after negotiating a two year $12 million contract on July 23rd, 2014. In the 2014-2015 season, O’Reilly collected 55 points; he also led the Avalanche in average ice time per game.

In the summer of 2015, Ryan O’Reilly was traded with Jamie McGinn to the Buffalo Sabres. Just a week later, on July 2nd, 2015, O’Reilly would sign a seven year contract extension with Buffalo worth 52.5 million, which would come into effect for the 2016-2017 season. He signed his contract the same day his brother also signed a contract with the Buffalo Sabres. In the first two seasons with the Sabres, Ryan led the team with 60 points.

On July 1st, 2018, Ryan was involved in a trade with the Saint Louis Blues. Ryan would experience a career high after a rebound in changes with the coaching staff and goaltending. Ryan would be invited to participate in the NHL All-Star game that season for the second time in his career.

The Blues qualified for the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, and Ryan would become the first player to score a goal in four consecutive play Stanley Cup Final games since Wayne Gretzky. The Blues also won their first Stanley Cup in club history, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

On December 23rd, 2020, Ryan O Reilly was named the Saint Louis Blues captain. Ryan played the following two seasons as the Saint Louis Blues captain. When he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored twelve goals and recorded seven assists in his last 40 games with the Blues.

Coming Home

Ryan made his Toronto Maple Leafs debut when he joined his team on the road shortly after the trade. At the time this article was written, O’Reilly had played eight games with Toronto recording two assists and three goals, which was a hat trick against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres. Later he had broken his finger and would be placed on long-term injury reserve. The hope is that he will return in time for playoffs to assist his new team in their quest for the Stanley Cup.

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