Blues: There’s no rush for O’Reilly

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Ryan O’Reilly maintains that his goal is to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues and that signing a contract extension before the start of the season is not a priority for him.

The Blues forward and captain could become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the campaign.

« This is where I really want to live and pursue my career, » he said. I think things will sort themselves out. I want to stay focused on the season ahead and guys, and be ready for what’s to come. I don’t worry about the possibility that it won’t be fixed immediately. We’ll see what will happen. »

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O’Reilly is in the final season of a seven-year, $52.5 million contract (average annual value of $7.5 million) he signed with the Buffalo Sabers on July 3. 2015. He was traded to the Blues on July 1, 2018.

The 31-year-old center player was named captain on December 23, 2020.

« There have been conversations, » O’Reilly said, « but there’s no press right now. We have plenty of time to find common ground and I’m not worried about it. I do not think that [le directeur général] Doug Armstrong worries. It’ll get better. Right now what matters is training camp and getting in shape to be ready. »

The Blues find themselves in a tight spot over the salary cap, having offered forwards similar eight-year, $8.125 million-a-year contracts starting in the 2023-24 season. Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. Will they be able to make room under the cap for O’Reilly’s new contract?

Blues head coach Craig Berube doesn’t believe O’Reilly’s contract situation will be a distraction this season.

« He’s a team guy first and foremost, » he said. This is something that is often repeated here. I don’t think it will affect him. »

O’Reilly had 58 points (21 goals, 37 assists) in 78 regular season games last season and helped the Blues reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to the champion Colorado Avalanche. Stanley Cup in six games. He had 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 12 playoff games.

He recorded 250 points (85 goals, 165 assists) in 287 games in four seasons with the Blues, and won the Conn-Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoffs most valuable player, when St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in 2019.

In 13 NHL seasons, O’Reilly had 672 points (240 goals, 432 assists) in 938 regular season games with the Blues, Avalanche and Sabres, and 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) in 64 playoff matches.

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