A lot of people in the hockey world were intrigued by what Ryan O’Reilly would bring to the Toronto Maple Leafs after they acquired him and Noel Acciari last Friday, but I don’t think anyone expected anything ‘as early as what we saw last night at Buffalo.
O’Reilly lit up his old team with a hat trick and an assist, so in addition to the assist he got in his Leafs debut, he now has three goals and five points in three games as a than Leaf, getting between Mitch Marner and John Tavares on the second row.
Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna spoke more about Ryan O’Reilly and his meteoric start with the Leafs on Daily Faceoff Live.
Mike McKenna: You think about the strength of the Leafs spine now, you’ve got O’Reilly at 70% since he’s been there, but in his career he’s at 55%. Go down the list, Tavares played on the left with O’Reilly but he’s taken a bunch of draws this year at 58%, Matthews at 53%, Kampf at 52%. Even Noel Acciari, who they picked up, was 54% with St. Louis. It is a real strength for this club.
The part about O’Reilly that intrigued me is that head coach Sheldon Keefe used O’Reilly as a center flanked by Marner and Tavares. And we might as well get used to hearing that, Tavares to Marner to O’Reilly. It happened twice in 37 seconds against Buffalo to open the first period, and they look flawless. It really is a modern take on the way strikers play. Even though O’Reilly is the center, all three play interchangeably.
But one thing after the game that caught my eye, Sheldon Keefe said, « It’s a good sample of what we’re capable of, but I still feel like we’re going to have John back in the middle. » So this caught my ear I’m curious if O’Reilly stays second line or goes third line how they mix and match but right now they have O’Reilly as a member of the Leafs. And do it in Buffalo against his old team and knock hats out of the stands? Pretty impressive.
Frank Seravalli: Yeah, I think when you look at Ryan O’Reilly and what he added to Sheldon Keefe is unlimited card switching. You can move any of these guys wherever you want and find success, probably in a fairly short amount of time considering the flexibility this profession has given you.
Since I’ve continued to trend on Twitter for the past few days, to all social media flirts, Ryan O’Reilly’s early feedback is fantastic. There is no doubt that he looks like a good fit. Here’s all I’ll say, and I’ll stay consistent in the sense that I don’t care if Ryan O’Reilly scores 60 goals by April 14th at the end of the regular season, this trade and every other trade, every trade and signing that the Toronto Maple Leafs have made will all be judged based on that team’s performance in the playoffs.
You can watch the full episode here…