It’s no secret Ryan O’Reilly has been the team’s MVP through the first half of the season. The 27 year-old all-star leads the team in goals (18), assists (32), and points (50). But just how impressive and impactful has he been?
The Blues acquired Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres on July 1st of this last offseason. After signing Bozak and Perron earlier that day, it was a move that surprised a lot of people, including myself. St. Louis gave up Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, along with a first and second round pick. Many people outside of the Blues organization thought Buffalo got the better of the deal, and some even went as far as to say the Blues got “fleeced”. It seemed like people undervalued the impact of Ryan O’Reilly and overvalued the impact of the three NHL players the Blues gave up. Through 109 combined games this season by Sobotka, Thompson, and Berglund, they’ve recorded 11 goals, 13 assists, with a dreadful -27 rating. This is compared to Ryan O’Reilly who has more than double those points in just 49 games, with a +14 rating to go along with it. Unfortunately, long-time Blue Patrik Berglund terminated his contract only 23 games into the season due to some personal struggles. Above all else, we should hope Berglund gets through this and finds his way back to the NHL sometime in the next few seasons.
As mentioned before, O’Reilly leads the Blues in goals, assists, points, and plus/minus, but he is also carrying the team in nearly every other category. Below I’ve broken it down by a few numbers I find the most impressive.
Time on Ice
Ryan O’Reilly is averaging 20:49 per game which is third on the team and leads all Blues forwards. Jaden Schwartz is the next closest forward, averaging exactly two minutes less, which is followed by Schenn and Tarasenko each averaging 18:33. Not only are his minutes excellent compared to the rest of the roster this season, but if he keeps up this pace he’ll have the highest average time-on-ice by a Blues forward since the NHL started keeping track of the stat in 1996.
Corsi and Fenwick
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of these two stats but there’s no doubt it can be a sign of how a player’s team performs while they’re on the ice. For people not familiar with Corsi, it‘s basically the plus/minus for the amount of shots directed at the net while on the ice at even strength. O’Reilly has a +88 differential which is second on the team behind Jaden Schwartz. Fenwick is almost the same thing, except it takes out blocked shots. He again ranks second on the team with a +93 differential, but this time behind Vladimir Tarasenko.
Face-off Percentage & PIMs
Throughout his career, Ryan O’Reilly has been known for his impressive face-off numbers along with his above-average discipline, and so far this season has been no exception. Among players on the team with 40+ games, his four minor penalties ranks third on the team behind Barbashev and Parayko. His exceptional 58.51% on the dot ranks third in the entire league, and would once again be the highest percentage by a Blue since the NHL started keeping track of the stat in 1996.
Even when you’re not looking at his stats, Ryan O’Reilly has clearly been the player that leads by example the most on the Blues. His work ethic is extraordinary, his decision making is terrific, and his ability to play in all situations can’t be overlooked. Luckily for the Blues, O’Reilly is locked up for another four years with an AAV of $7.5 million. He’ll be a huge part of this team in the future, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a “C” on his sweater before it’s all said and done.