Winning the Stanley Cup is one of the greatest thrills in professional sports and while it is always a team effort needed to raise that silver mug aloft, one individual from that club usually is named the postseason’s Most Valuable Player and goes home with the Conn Smythe Trophy.
As St. Louis won their first championship in 2019, the player that went the extra mile was Ryan O’Reilly. Acquired by the Blues from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, and a pair of future high draft picks on July 1, 2018, he had a career year in 2018-19 thanks to setting personal marks for with 49 assists and 77 points. He had a 10-game point streak early on and played a key part in helping St. Louis go from last place in early January to making it into the playoffs, appearing in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game as well.
In the first round battle with the Winnipeg Jets, O’Reilly delivered four points over six outings which included the winning goal in Game 2. He stepped it up slightly with five points when taking on the Dallas Stars and capped off the Western Conference Final with a three-assist effort against the San Jose Sharks on May 21. This victory put the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970 and the local fans went wild.
Stanley Cup MVP
Once the Stanley Cup Final was in full swing, O’Reilly took his game to a whole new level. In Game 2, he had the primary assist on Carl Gunnarsson’s overtime winner against the Boston Bruins – which marked the first time the Blues won a game in the last round of the playoffs. Following a tough blowout loss in Game 3, O’Reilly scored twice, including the winner, in the next clash.
Over the next two outings, the Bruins and Blues traded wins, but O’Reilly scored in each one. With everything on the line in Game 7, he opened up the scoring late in the first period and became the first players since Wayne Gretzky in 1985 to score in four straight Stanley Cup Final games. He added an assist to Zach Sanford’s third period tally and by the time the final horn sounded, O’Reilly was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy despite stiff competition from goalies Jordan Binnington and Tuukka Rask and teammate Alex Pietrangelo.
This performance has seen an increased demand for Ryan O’Reilly rookie cards. A second round pick (33rd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he cracked the lineup for the Colorado Avalanche right away instead of returning to the OHL’s Erie Otters. He had previously been featured in Heroes & Prospects releases from In The Game prior to his debut, but collectors were quick to jump on his first NHL cards from various Upper Deck releases.
As a freshman, O’Reilly played second fiddle to fellow Avalanche rookie Matt Duchene in the hearts of collectors, but he showed steady growth over his first few seasons before really breaking out with a Lady Byng Trophy win in 2013-14. Dealt away to the Sabres around the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he responded to his new surroundings by appearing in his first NHL All-Star Game. He spent three seasons in total with Buffalo and hit the 20-goal mark each year.
O’Reilly’s rookie cards can really be split into three categories. Some are quite affordable, while others will be moderately expensive. There are also a few that run higher, but virtually none will break the bank.
For just a handful of dollars, there are those which appeared in 2009-10 Upper Deck products like Collector’s Choice and MVP. Each of these cards also has parallel versions with Prime Reserve being tougher for the Collector’s Choice card and the MVP card has Gold Scripts and Super Scripts numbered to 100 and 25 respectively. Packs of 2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2 contained a Victory Update card and O’Reilly’s card has both Black and Gold parallels, which the former being a tougher pull.
For old school collectors, the O-Pee-Chee card is a must-have and it was only available in theUpdate factory set and can be found on eBay for just a few dollars. It has a rainbow foil parallel, part of a 200-card set which were seeded at a rate of five per box unless the set contained a memorabilia card. O’Reilly’s rookie card in Fleer Ultra was received by collectors that sent in a redemption card and it has both a Gold Medallion and Ice Medallion version. The last of the affordable rookies comes from Champ’s and it was a mini card which could be found with colored parallels (blue, green, and red) along with a Parkhurst back.
Middle of the Road
As the products rose in retail price over the 2009-10 season, the quality of O’Reilly’s rookie cards grew as well. In 2009-10 Upper Deck Ice, the acetate stock card was an Ice Premieres Level 2 card and serial-numbered to 499 that runs just a few dollars on eBay. Other O’Reilly rookie cards which featured only serial numbering came in SP Game Used (#’d to 699), Artifacts (#’d to 699), Be A Player (#’d to 99), and Trilogy (#’d to 499). Black Diamond, which has enduring popularity, is another solid option, and the card has both Ruby (#’d to 100) and Gold (#’d to 10) along with a one-of-one Onyx edition.
For those wanting an affordable O’Reilly rookie card with the triple threat of player-worn memorabilia, an autograph, and serial-numbering, look no further than 2009-10 SPx (no more than $35 on eBay and often less). Rounding out the middle-of-the-road options is the venerable Young Guns rookie card from the Upper Deck flagship release. Naturally, it also has the Exclusives (#’d to 100) and High Gloss (#’d to 10) parallels, but the basic version is generally an easy score right now on eBay for a very small investment.
Break Out the Wallet
For those wanting something even more substantial to add to their Ryan O’Reilly collections, there are five attainable options to consider as long as they are willing to shell out a few bucks. The 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Premier rookie card was limited to 299 copies and includes several pieces of player-worn jersey with a hard-signed autograph. These can be found on eBay for around $30 as of now.
His UD Black rookie card provides a bit of a challenge as it features a signed letter from a jersey and some collectors will try to spell out his last name.
With his Future Watch autographed rookie card from 2009-10 SP Authentic, collectors will get a proven commodity due to the brand’s popularity. Numbered to 999 for the hard-signed regular version, the Limited parallel is numbered to 100 and includes a piece of a patch from a player-worn jersey. Neither is very expensive. Like SP Authentic, O’Reilly’s aethestically pleasing rookie card from 2009-10 Ulitmate Collection is hard-signed, but it has a much smaller print run at 299 copies. You can occasionally find one on eBay.
The best option of all for the O’Reilly super collector, though, is his rookie card that was part of 2009-10 The Cup. Numbered to 249 copies, it has a nice piece of patch and a hard signature. You can find them on eBay for $100-$200 as of now.
On top of that, The Cup included one-of-one printing plates (in Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and Black) for the rookie cards found in Artifacts, Black, Black Diamond, Collector’s Choice, O-Pee-Chee Premier, O-Pee-Chee, SP Authentic, SP Game Used, SPx, Ultimate Collection, Upper Deck Series One, ICE, MVP, Trilogy, and Victory.
You can check out a real time list of the top 25 most watched Ryan O’Reilly auctions on eBay below.