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Ryan O’Reilly Looks Like a New (Better) Player with Maple Leafs

Newcomer Ryan O’Reilly looks like a new and better player with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Why does Justin Bourne think that is the case?

In the video below, his breakdown, Justin Bourne focuses on several key factors that have made Ryan O’Reilly a more effective offensive player with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

O’Reilly’s Playing Style Has Changed Since He’s Been In Toronto

According to Bourne, Ryan O’Reilly’s playing style has changed since he joined the Maple Leafs. He has been spending more time in the offensive zone; and, he has been specifically involved in many more rush chances. This is partly because he’s been playing with highly-skilled players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares in the Maple Leafs’ top six.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews & Mitch Marner are key to the Maple Leafs

The upside for O’Reilly is that his smart play complements these elite players well. As a result, the team’s top six have been creating a ton of chances in the offensive zone. As Bourne shows and comments on in the video, the Maple Leafs’ offensive zone play has been impressive. Together, O’Reilly and his top-six linemates create a “swirl” that confuses opposing defenders and forces them to make coverage decisions.

While O’Reilly Benefits from His Teammates’ Skills, His High Hockey IQ Helps

O’Reilly’s touches in the offensive zone have been a key part of this success. He’s able to make quick and smart decisions with the puck, which often leads to scoring chances. Even in a small sample size, it’s clear that O’Reilly’s move to the Maple Leafs has been a huge success. His contributions to the team’s offense look to be a key part of the team’s success thus far and going forward.

As Bourne notes, O’Reilly has a few key skills that are exemplified well in Toronto. First, he can constantly move and switch positions with his linemates. This movement creates more scoring opportunities for the team. Second, he’s finding open space and working hard to recover loose pucks. In that way, he’s a bit like a former puck-digger named Zach Hyman.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Schenn, McCabe, Woll & More

O’Reilly’s Offense Has Improved Since He Joined the Maple Leafs

In short, O’Reilly has become a key player in the team’s offensive success. His increased involvement and touches have been noticeable since he joined the team. These represent a significant improvement from his playing time in St. Louis.

Ryan O’Reilly when he was with the Blues

This season with the Blues, Bourne notes that he had struggled to make an impact. That’s one reason many Maple Leafs’ fans had chaffed a bit when the trade for the “has been,” past-his-prime O’Reilly was made. But Toronto is a different place, and O’Reilly is a different player here.

O”Reilly’s Presence Will Be Crucial for the Maple Leafs’ Postseason

Having O’Reilly’s offensive contributions in the playoffs will be critical for the Maple Leafs. In addition, his experience and leadership will be valuable in the high-pressure playoff environment. Even in the short term, O’Reilly’s impact on the Maple Leafs’ offense has been significant. However, his “other” contributions might be even more important as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.

O’Reilly’s move to the Maple Leafs has been beneficial for his offensive game. As Bourne outlines on the video, he’s making bold little plays, creating a large number offensive-zone touches. His hockey IQ is helping him work well with his linemates to create scoring chances.

Although he was the benefit of a hat trick in his second game with the team, his point production has doubled compared to his time in St. Louis. Given the context in which he’s playing, he has the potential to increase it even further in the playoffs.

Bourne Outlines Some of the Improvements in O’Reilly’s Game

One of the most significant improvements in O’Reilly’s game has been his increased number of rush chances. They have tripled since joining the team. This increase indicates that he’s fitting in well with the team’s style of play by using his speed and offensive instincts. Overall, O’Reilly’s contributions to the Maple Leafs have been impressive, and he will be a key player to watch as the team heads into the playoffs.

Related: Did Maple Leafs Have Lightning in Mind with Schenn Trade?

With This Maple Leafs’ Team, O’Reilly Doesn’t Have to Be a Speed Demon

Interestingly, O’Reilly is not the fastest player in the league, but his hockey IQ and ability to find open space on the ice make him an effective offensive player. Playing with Tavares and other skilled linemates has allowed him to utilize his offensive instincts to create scoring chances.

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs Upper Deck
John Tavares and Ryan O’Reilly work well with the Toronto Maple Leafs

So far, he’s found great chemistry with whatever linemates he plays with, even if he isn’t the fastest skater on the ice. With elite players like Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner, that’s been more than possible.

The Maple Leafs Are Making O’Reilly Better, and Vice Versa

Funny how that works with good NHL hockey players. O’Reilly can make those around him better. At the same time, they make him better. The result is that he’s quickly become a valuable asset for this playoff-bound team.

The key to playoff success is taking advantage of every scoring opportunity. For Maple Leafs’ fans, this might be an exciting postseason. And, if it is, it might be due to O’Reilly’s ability to contribute to the Maple Leafs’ playoff push.

Related: Whatever Happened to ex-Maple Leafs’ Josh Ho-Sang?



  1. afp1961

    March 4, 2023 at 7:11 am

    Jim, I agree with you. However I very much want to ROR as the 3C. Depth down the middle will be critical when you look at Tampa and possibly Boston. That does create other lineup issues but i believe it can be addition by subtraction.

    If Knies does come April 1st, Id add him as the LW3 beside ROR and Jankrok. This creates another depth scoring line rather than loading up the top two lines. In return I would bump up Lafferty to LW2 and he becomes another version of Bunting. A guy that can forecheck, has speed and above average hands.

  2. Jon Harding

    March 4, 2023 at 7:23 am

    OP, good storyline to pursue and I like the thinking in the comment above, especially the possibilities of moving Lafferty or even Accari higher in the lineup. Bottom line, Sheldon Keefe must determine the optimum combinations across the lineup over the next 20 games. It’s a critical if somewhat lost point in that may emerge in the days ahead.

  3. Roy Peters

    March 4, 2023 at 10:21 am

    I always enjoyed watching O’Reilly play he competes and in the playoffs when the refs put the whisle away he is a beast with his stick and bodychecks.

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