by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page

Did Jason Botterill and the Sabres make a good trade with the St. Louis Blues? I think he did. It’s not perfect by any means, but it was good. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Sabres Gave

This heading could have said “Sabres Gave Up” ┬ábecause that what’s they did with O’Reilly. They gave up on him. Sort of, but they were reading to move on from their 7.5 million dollar man. He wasn’t the leader he wanted to be with the Sabres, and he was never going to be. He was also overpaid, but that was the contract it took to get him to sign after he was acquired from Colorado.

I wanted O’Reilly badly when he was available. I like the way he played, and he was what the Sabres needed back in 2016. A veteran center that could play both ends of the ice consistently and lead the younger core. He had the consistent part down, but leading a beleaguered group didn’t work out so well. The team didn’t improve, and a star took away the spotlight. I don’t think that sat well with him, and management realized they weren’t winning with him, so he became available.

Sabres Got

A lot came in return for O’Reilly. A prospect in Tage Thompson (hard shot), 1st rounder in 2019, 2nd rounder in 2021, center Patrick Berglund, and LW Vladimir Sobotka. That’s a big haul for one player. Thompson and the draft picks (particularly the 1st) are what matter most. It’s a move for the future. But the veteran forwards can’t be discounted.

Berglund is a good center, but not nearly as good as O’Reilly. He’s capable of scoring 20, if he can stay healthy. In his 9 seasons, he’s surpassed 70 games only 5 times. He’s also longer in the tooth (30) and has a cap hit of 3.85 million through 2022. That’s a lengthy deal, but one the Sabres had to take on to make O’Reilly’s deal fit with the Blues. It’s a contract that Botterill will look to either move, or buyout down the road. Sobotka falls into the same category, but with less goal production, and less time on his contract. He has two years remaining, and my guess is he’ll play those out on the bottom 6 of the lineup. That will work for the Sabres because one of the issues the team had was a weak bottom 6, along with a week defense.

Bottom Line

I think this was addition by subtraction for the Sabres. O’Reilly had a huge contract, and the Sabres need more players with that money. They took on two of them to play now, and acquired a few for the future. That’s where this trade will hinge for Buffalo. The success of Thompson and the draft picks will ultimately determine if the Sabres won it.


Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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