BOSTON - Ryan O’Reilly arrived in St. Louis with no shortage of questions surrounding his bitter departure from Buffalo.
On his first call with Blues GM Doug Armstrong after the Canada Day trade, he said: “Let’s go win a Cup,” O’Reilly recounted Wednesday night.
He went and did one better - not just helping the Blues capture the first Stanley Cup in franchise history - but also bringing home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player. O’Reilly is the first skater in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe in his first season with a new team.
“Looking at the names on this thing, most of the guys on here I pretended I was as a kid,” O’Reilly said. “Now to be on there with them, it’s an incredible feeling. I can’t believe that we hung on and got this thing done.”
Voting showed that O’Reilly won the award handily, receiving 13 of a possible 18 first-place votes from a panel of Professional Hockey Writers’ Association members. Blues’ rookie goalie Jordan Binnington received the other five first-place votes.
O’Reilly edged Binnington by a 78 to 46 margin. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, with a playoff best .934 save percentage, finished third in a losing cause. Blues defensive pillars Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko also received votes.
Points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis and votes are due and calculated by the NHL with 10 minutes remaining in the clinching game.
All 18 ballots, including this reporter’s, have been released publicly and are listed below.
O’Reilly became the first player in NHL history to score consecutively in Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 of a Stanley Cup final. His monster five-goal, eight-point series made him not just the points leader in the final, but pulled him into a tie for the playoff lead on the final night with 23 points - also a franchise playoff record.
That O’Reilly did it with a cracked rib, suffered in the second round against Dallas, only added to a legendary playoff run.
He kept his injury well hidden, revealing it after Game 7. He said that taking faceoffs bothered him, but it may also explain why he had a relatively quiet couple rounds before the big stage.
“There was a couple tough games, but once you kind of get going and the adrenaline takes over, I didn’t really notice,” O’Reilly said.
Binnington became the first rookie netminder to win all 16 games required to hoist the Stanley Cup. He was stellar in Game 7, staving off an early Bruins onslaught, but was up and down in the Cup final - pulled in Game 3 and allowed five goals in Game 6 with a chance to clinch on home ice.
Still, Binnington received plenty of support because while the rest of the Blues took turns stepping up, he was making the required saves all postseason to survive.
O’Reilly joined the likes of recent winners Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Evgeni Malkin. .
It’s a fitting one for a guy coach Craig Berube said was the Blues’ best and most consistent player all season long.
“Looking at his play all year long, his worth ethic and his production for us all year and then throughout the playoffs, he was just a relentless hockey player for a long time,” Berube said. “Never quits. Such a smart two-way player. He's a special player.”
Here is how the 18-member panel voted:
Per Bjurman (Aftonbladet): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Tuukka Rask, 3. Jordan Binnington
Scott Burnside (The Athletic): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Colton Parayko, 3. Tuukka Rask
Ken Campbell (The Hockey News): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Jordan Binnington, 3. Tuukka Rask
Jean-Francois Chaumont (Journal de Montréal): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Alex Pietrangelo, 3. Jordan Binnington
Steve Conroy (Boston Herald): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Alex Pietrangelo, 3. Jordan Binnington
Kevin Paul DuPont (Boston Globe): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Jordan Binnington, 3. Tuukka Rask
Elliotte Friedman (Sportsnet): 1. Jordan Binnington, 2. Ryan O’Reilly, 3. Tuukka Rask
Francois Gagnon (RDS): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Alex Pietrangelo, 3. Colton Parayko
Sami Hoffren (Iltasanomat): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Tuukka Rask, 3. Jordan Binnington
Chris Johnston (Sportsnet): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Jordan Binnington, 3. Alex Pietrangelo
Emily Kaplan (ESPN): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Jordan Binnington, 3. Tuukka Rask
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 1. Jordan Binnington, 2. Ryan O’Reilly, 3. Tuukka Rask
Jeremy Rutherford (The Athletic): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Jordan Binnington, 3. Tuukka Rask
Frank Seravalli (TSN): 1. Jordan Binnington, 2. Ryan O’Reilly, 3. Tuukka Rask
Jim Thomas (St. Louis Post-Dispatch): 1. Jordan Binnington, 2. Tuukka Rask, 3. Ryan O’Reilly
Tom Timmermann (St. Louis Post-Dispatch): 1. Jordan Binnington, 2. Ryan O’Reilly, 3. Tuukka Rask
Michael Traikos (Postmedia): 1. Ryan O’Reilly, 2. Tuukka Rask, 3. Jordan Binnington
Voting Totals: (18 Voters)
1. Ryan O’Reilly (St. Louis): 13 - 4 - 1 (78 points)
2. Jordan Binnington (St. Louis): 5 - 5 - 6 (46 points)
3. Tuukka Rask (Boston): 0 - 4 - 9 (21 points)
4. Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis): 0 - 3 - 1 (10 points)
5. Colton Parayko (St. Louis): 0 - 2 - 1 (7 points)
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli