Potential Edmonton Oilers Rental – Ryan O’Reilly

Jan 23, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Buffalo Sabres celebrate a second period goal by forward Ryan OÕReilly (90), his second of the period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Buffalo Sabres celebrate a second period goal by forward Ryan OÕReilly (90), his second of the period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rumours on blueliners like Karlsson and Chychrun have started to heat up again, as have rumours the Oilers are in on Patrick Kane too. Chychrun is now in the headlines connected to the Oilers who appear to at this point be out on the d-man. Florida and Toronto, likewise, are out on Chychrun and the strongest team for his services – the LA Kings – have balked at sending one of their top prospects Arizona’s way which has stalled talks with them.

I’m glad this hoopla on Chychrun has amounted to nothing on the Oilers side – after all, Chychrun reminds me a lot of Marion Gaborik – he’s a great talent……when healthy. Chychrun has only once – seriously, literally only once – played a full NHL season since he started – and that one full season was the covid-shortened season of 2020-21. Take a look if you don’t believe me. I have a feeling he would’ve been injury plagued had that season been an actual full 82-game season.

There’s still time before the deadline, of course, so anything can happen, but hopefully, Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong reads the market and realizes that maybe he’s asking for too much. It’s possible another team that we don’t know about might be interested in him, but teams interested in the big fish rarely fly under the radar. Even this season, Chychrun has done well when he’s playing but still has missed almost 20 games this season due to injury and of course, sitting out as of late. If Chychrun didn’t have the injury history that he does I highly doubt he would still be on the market and a trade would already have taken place, but it is what it is.

I could see the Oilers balking at Karlsson for the same reason – yes he’s having a good season now but he’s 32 and has played a featured role on all the teams he’s played for in Ottawa and San Jose – and prior to this season, the last time he’d played a full season was 2015-16. Personally, I would be too scared to pull off a huge blockbuster trade haul for guys with injury issues like Karlsson or Chychrun, but that’s just me. Personally, I’d rather keep Tyson Barrie – who regardless of whether the return is Karlsson or Chychrun would likely be the centrepiece going the other way. Barrie has his flaws but we know he fits into the team, his defensive play has been better since he’s been coached by Dave Manson, and most of all he’s younger and cheaper – and wants to be here. He’s also the 1st unit PP QB – and yes I know either Chychrun or Karlsson can play that role as well but you just never know how it will work out with outsiders. With the trade haul for either player, it will be a huge risk.

With the way the D has been playing lately, I think the justification for a stay-at-home guy like McCabe or Gavrikov has been lessened as of late as it doesn’t seem like anyone on the market would be an upgrade on what we have now.

Perhaps our trade energies are better spent at forward. With the Blues trading Vladimir Tarasenko, we know they’re starting a rebuild so it’s all vets available. O’Reilly, in my opinion, would be a quality rental for the Oilers playoff run. His next contract will be too much for the Oilers, but he’d be a quality rental for this season.

The idea would be to load up the center depth for bear in the playoffs. We could probably play O’Reilly at LW in the top six if we wanted to, but as a natural center he would probably better be spent playing third line C, moving Ryan Mcleod down to the fourth line and Derek Ryan over to RW to account for the loss of the Bison King. Now you’ve got three lines with centermen who are a threat to score every shift, with a quality young player on the fourth line who can provide complementary scoring.  Here’s what that trade would look like:

The combination of the cap retention by the Blues and JP and Devin Shore means the Oilers would be $100,000 of cap space richer (JP and Devin Shore make up a $3.85 million price tag in cap space) – a tiny sum for St. Louis to take on and meanwhile, they would actually still get significant cap relief as well since they would be moving out of LTIR cap space and even with the cap space retained their payroll now moves down to just over $80.1 million, meaning they get almost $2.5 million of cap space for other trades plus the $4.025 million in LTIR they can use if necessary.

O’Reilly is an in-demand rental so unlike with other rentals the Oilers would need to send their first-rounder to make it work, plus the third-rounder is in gratitude for the cap hit retention. JP and Shore are not signed past this season so JP gets his wish for a fresh start and if it doesn’t work out, no problem they just let him walk in free agency. If it works they have a player for next season in exchange for a player who was on the way out anyway.

What do the Oilers get in O’Reilly? 

O’Reilly is having a tough go of it right now in the bad team St. Louis is icing – he’s currently sporting a career-worst -25 but this is probably an aberration, as O’Reilly has finished as a + player the previous four seasons before that, even going so far as +26 in 2020-21. Word on the street is his play has declined because he’s less motivated to play on a bad team, so a trade to the Oilers would most certainly fix that. O’Reilly is widely acknowledged as one of the best two-way centers in the NHL who can still put pucks in the net. He spent time in injury this season but has put up a modest 12-6-18 in 39 games for the Blues this season. Prior to this season, though, he was a 20-goal scorer for six of the last seven seasons and seven of the last nine.

He’s also a Stanley Cup champion in 2019 with the Blues so he knows exactly what it takes to get over the hump and become a winner, a valuable intangible for this team come playoff time. During the Blues cup run, he had eight goals and 23 points in 26 playoff games, and even last season had 12 points in 12 playoff games.

If you think Warren Foegele and Dylan Holloway could put up points now, imagine what would happen if we put O’Reilly between them…….

What else does O’Reilly do? 

O’Reilly currently plays on the second unit PP for the Blues, and although the Oilers PP doesn’t exactly need help, Woodcroft has the option to deploy him there as well if he wants to. Right now he’s eighth on the Blues in PP TOI per game with two minutes on the nose. As you would expect for a two-way center, oddly enough he doesn’t have a regular spot on their PK but he does have the fourth-highest minutes per game on the PK – 1:47 to be exact. This is an area the Oilers DO need help with as their PK has sunk back down to 27th in the league. Woodcroft will have the option to parachute him into either unit here.

O’Reilly is also very good at faceoffs, as he sports a 55.7% career faceoff %. This season he sports a 53.98% faceoff % and has taken the second most faceoffs on the Blues this season with 691, second only to Robert Thomas.

He’s not very physical as he isn’t top 10 on the Blues in either hits or blocked shots. That’s fine, though, since both of his potential linemates are hitters. His wingers could create space for him while he moves in for the kill – and either one is capable of burying rebounds or garbage goals when necessary.

O’Reilly would be a great rental and unlike a lot of the rumoured players out there we actually have the assets to make the money work if the Blues agree to 50% retention – which they should, considering we’d be giving them assets for now and the future, something a rebuilding team need, not to mention cap relief as well.

Now the comment trolls are free to present some ridiculous argument as to why I’m wrong…..:)