The St. Louis Blues’ 2022-23 season was a shocking disappointment for fans and management alike, leading to the team becoming sellers at the trade deadline and ultimately finishing in a draft lottery position outside the playoffs. So who bears the blames for the team’s failings? And who succeeded despite the team’s struggles? That’s what we’ll look to identify in our 2022-23 Blues’ Report Cards series.
Ryan O’Reilly began the 2022-23 season as the Blues captain. It’s still going on for him with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs. It was a weird season for him, especially with the Blues, but trading him was best for both sides. He was one of the most decorated players in Blues history after just four and a half seasons. The O’Reilly trade was a success for the Blues. Let’s get into the weird 2022-23 season with a report card to grade his season.
What Went Right: Getting Traded to Toronto
I don’t think anything truly went right for O’Reilly while he was with the Blues in 2022-23. It was a rough season all around for the Blues, so it’s unsurprising that a player who got traded played better in his new destination. In the regular season with the Maple Leafs, O’Reilly suffered a thumb injury that sidelined him for a month. He appeared in only 13 regular season games for the Maple Leafs and scored four goals and seven assists for 11 points. However, the Maple Leafs acquired him mostly for his prowess in the playoffs, and that has worked well thus far.
The Maple Leafs are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004. O’Reilly has been a huge part of their run to this point. In six playoff games, he’s been predictably excellent. He has seven points, including a game-tying goal in Game 3, and 10 takeaways.
O’Reilly’s playoff pedigree has been well-documented. He was the biggest overall contributor to the Blues’ Stanley Cup victory in 2019, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoffs’ most valuable player. In his past 57 playoff games, dating back to the beginning of the 2019 Playoffs, he has 56 points in 57 games. He’s been a postseason force in his career and it’s continued that way with the Maple Leafs.
What Went Wrong: Offensive Production in St. Louis
I think injuries are another thing that went wrong for O’Reilly this season. He only played 53 regular season games as a result of a broken foot with the Blues and a broken thumb with the Maple Leafs. That’s the lowest number of regular season games he’s ever played in a full 82-game season. Most of the regular season was full of outliers for O’Reilly. His offensive production with the Blues was a major one.
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The 2021-22 season was also a weird one for O’Reilly. He only scored 58 points in 78 games. That came after the shortened 2020-21 season where he had 54 points in 56 games. His offensive production wasn’t a factor for the Blues last season with their scoring depth, but it played a role this season. In 40 games before the trade, O’Reilly had 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points. I attribute part of his dip in 2022-23 to the Blues’ power play being worse and life without David Perron. The duo of O’Reilly and Perron produced plenty of offense for the Blues over the past few seasons.
- Won 55.8 percent of faceoffs
- Four game-winning goals
- 46 takeaways to 10 giveaways
- Minus-24 with the Blues (fourth-worst on the team)
Final Grade: C-
This grade is based on his season with the Blues, but the report card is the entire scope of his regular season. He struggled alongside the Blues before the trade. It was not a shock to see him traded, but it was a sad reality of where the Blues franchise is currently at. The expectations were high for O’Reilly and he, like the majority of the 2022-23 Blues roster, failed to reach them. It’s great for O’Reilly to join a contender and he’s thrived with them. The only thing saving him from a worse grade is everybody around him also struggling.
What’s Next for O’Reilly?
Free agency is next for O’Reilly. It makes sense for the Blues to look into bringing O’Reilly back. However, I could see him re-signing with the Maple Leafs with the current playoff run they are on. But the Blues will have a hole to fill at the middle-six center position. I’m curious to see what O’Reilly’s next contract looks like. He still has a lot of value down the middle in the current version of the NHL.