The Toronto Maple Leafs are all-in on winning. Now.
That’s the message common manager Kyle Dubas sent Friday evening when he acquired forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect Mikhail Abramov, forward Adam Gaudette, the Leafs’ 2023 1st-round choose, the Ottawa Senators’ 2023 third-round choose and Toronto’s 2024 second-round choose. The Blues also retained 50% of O’Reilly’s $7.five million cap hit.
It was a substantial swap that brings O’Reilly’s Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe-winning pedigree — from the Blues’ 2019 championship run — to Toronto’s dressing space. Dubas hopes the Leafs, who are second in the Atlantic Division and fourth all round with 74 points, can be inspired towards comparable achievement.
“The group has been in the top rated 5 in the standings [before] we’re there once more this year,” Dubas mentioned Saturday. “When you happen to be there, your purpose I believe has to be that you happen to be attempting to win. And if you happen to be attempting to win, you happen to be attempting to win the Stanley Cup. We’re attempting to win, and that is the message. Anything brief of that, we’ll all be disappointed.”
To get the O’Reilly deal performed, Dubas enlisted the assist of a third group — Minnesota — to take on 25% of the veteran’s cap hit. The Wild tossed forward Josh Pillar, a 2019 fourth-round choose, into the deal and received the Leafs’ 2025 fourth-round choose in return. Pillar has 12 points in 12 games this season with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades.
The 32-year-old O’Reilly, who will be an unrestricted free of charge agent this summer time, was the huge fish in the trade, whilst Acciari projects to play a middle-six function. Dubas was pleased not to element with any of the Leafs’ coveted top rated prospects, like forward Matthew Knies, but did admit that losing additional substantial draft capital does weigh on him.
Toronto has just 4 picks remaining in the 1st 3 rounds of the subsequent 3 drafts.
“I’d be lying if I mentioned that wasn’t a concern of mine,” Dubas mentioned. “But my view of it is that I would substantially rather hold the young players we’ve got signed. We know them, we know what they are about. We have our projection of what their prospective is without the need of overdoing it. Our capability to have some achievement in that realm dictated this. I do not believe it really is sustainable [to keep giving up picks] for the pretty extended run. But I believe with exactly where we’re at ideal now, we have to do we have to do. And with the way that these guys have progressed, I was just additional comfy moving the picks.”
Dubas is also pleased with O’Reilly’s overall health status. The center, who has 12 targets and 19 points in 40 games, suffered a broken foot on Dec. 31 and just returned to game action Feb. 11.
Toronto played St. Louis days prior to O’Reilly got hurt, and Dubas has noticed him choose back up without the need of problem.
“Seeing him back healthful playing properly puts your thoughts at ease,” Dubas mentioned. “And it really is not like it was a muscle factor, it really is a broken bone. So, when he’s back healthful and cleared and playing, and playing properly, and you see him out there, it puts it all to rest so he’s healthful and prepared to roll.”
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned each O’Reilly and Acciari are anticipated to be in the lineup against Montreal on Saturday evening. Keefe projected O’Reilly could take on any quantity of roles in the Leafs’ top rated-six and he would use the remainder of this common season to figure out optimal combinations prior to the postseason.
How extended O’Reilly remains with Toronto following that remains to be noticed. Dubas mentioned he hasn’t engaged in any sort of extension talks with O’Reilly’s camp, and nor does he program to. Not but anyway.
“You want to see how the player fits in with exactly where you happen to be at, no matter whether they like it right here, no matter whether it really is the ideal match,” Dubas mentioned. “I like individuals to reside collectively prior to they get married rather than take that step without the need of it. That’s just my view.”