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Evaluating the ROR trade

Sabres get players, picks from St. Louis, but was it a good return?

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On Sunday evening, the Sabres dealt Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues. There were rumors of a possible trade for weeks, even months.

Finally, GM Jason Botterill pulled the trigger on a deal with St. Louis, and in return, received:

  • 2019 1st round pick (top 10 protected)
  • 2021 2nd round pick
  • Tage Thompson
  • Vladimir Sobotka
  • Patrik Berglund

“I had some great conversations with O’Reilly at the end of the season He was going to be a big part of changing things in Buffalo. We just felt comfortable with what St. Louis was offering to make the trade.” – Botterill

So who are these players Buffalo got in return?

Tage Thompson – At 6’5″, 205 lbs, the Sabres got themselves a big, young center.

Gareth Moyse from The Runner Sports said that Thompson is a top-six forward in the making and that there have been early comparisons to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.

In 2016, The Sports Forecaster broke down Thompson and had had the following to say:

He has a tremendous frame and plenty of offensive acumen. Can play in the center position but profiles best as a big talented scoring winger at the highest level.” 

Botterill said he believes Thompson is ready to step in for Buffalo at the NHL level. In 41 games for the Blues last season, Thompson recorded three goals and six assists.

Vladimir SobotkaHe was mainly included in the deal because the Blues needed to clear additional cap space. Sobotka has only surpassed the 30-point mark twice in his career, and not by much. 

He spent three seasons in the KHL before returning to St. Louis last season, when he put up 11 goals and 20 assists in 81 games. 

He will probably fit in somewhere on the third or fourth line at best for Buffalo, but he’s not going to wow fans with huge numbers. 

Patrick Berglund – He offers much more upside than Sobotka, at least from a statistical standpoint. 

He has three 20-goal seasons and could realistically put up 40-50 points over a full season. He can chip in on the power play and should be able to help out, but don’t expect the world from him. 

Berglund had a modified no trade clause in his contract, but approved of being sent to the Sabres.

Botterill had a conference call with the media on Monday night and was very happy with what he got in return, especially since Buffalo avoided paying O’Reilly’s bonus. 

He was very high on all three players that were acquired:

“They can play center and wing – they have that versatility. And they have playoff experience, which is important to add to our locker room.” – Botterill

It’s hard to say exactly who won the trade since the Sabres have two future picks and those could turn into superstars or duds. 

Botterill has high hopes for Thompson and he may be the biggest part of this trade. He was apparently very insistent on getting him from St. Louis. Berglund and Sobotka don’t really add much to the trade. They’re a couple of mediocre players, but could add some veteran leadership for the next few years. 

Thompson is young and much more promising. It’s difficult to give up a guy like O’Reilly, who is established and still in his prime, and still say you won the trade. If Thompson doesn’t pan out, then it’s going to come down to the two picks they received in return. 

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