This will be the first installment of a few articles I will be doing on the pros and cons of trading some of our core players starting with Ryan O’Reilly then moving to Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen.
O’Reilly has been a hot topic of discussion this offseason for the Buffalo Sabres. At locker room clean out day, ROR was brutally honest telling reporters,
“It’s disappointing. It’s sad. I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times. You need to get back to it because it’s just eating myself up and eats the other guys, too. It’s just eating us up, and it’s tough.”
This type of honesty immediately thrusted his name into trade speculation with TSN Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger both commenting on his possible trade availability. Based on their comments the Sabres would like to facilitate some sort of change but it would take a heck of an offer to move Ryan O’Reilly. Obviously the Sabres would like to make changes to the culture of the team but trading a significant piece to your puzzle in ROR would seem like a step back unless we are getting a massive return.
Now to the pros and cons…
Any Ryan O’Reilly trade will likely get us a very good return. He’s a top two way center in the league and the return will show that. Jason Botterill mentioned his want for speed in the lineup and ROR isn’t exactly a speed demon. In your return, the hope is the Sabres can add speed to the lineup while also possibly filling in other holes at left wing or at defense as well.
I think the biggest thing in trading ROR is that you would be freeing up a major portion in cap space. His $7.5 million cap hit might not look to great down the road when we’re going to have Brendan Guhle, Casey Mittelstadt, and Rasmus Dahlin coming off rookie contracts. Getting a massive return on ROR on top of extra cap space gives the Sabres a new young core to build on with some lee way.
I feel that there are a few cons that may outweigh the pros in this situation. Trading ROR leaves a huge hole in the middle of the Sabres lineup. Casey Mittelstadt is going to be fantastic but we still don’t know the defensive side of his game. Losing ROR means losing a center that you can lean on in any defensive situation. He’s a center that you can trust in important face offs as well. O’Reilly is the type of player every team covets so trading him just opens the hole that we brought him in to fill.
ROR has been very consistent the past three seasons while it has been the surrounding players that have digressed. Instead of trading away a top player like ROR, build up a solid bottom six and give the top guys something to work with. How many teams in the league could boast center depth of Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, and Casey Mittelstadt? Being able to roll those three out consistently is a matchup nightmare for teams. O’Reilly can take the heavy defensive roles, Eichel will likely face the top defensive matchups, leaving Mittelstadt to face favorable matchups. Rinse and repeat.
I feel there is a slim chance O’Reilly will be traded but there is always that chance. I can’t predict the offers the Sabres will get and ROR isn’t untouchable either. For now I’d say keep O’Reilly and reap the benefits of center depth that most teams covet.
Here are a few teams that might be interested in ROR and what they have to offer….
I’ve seen a Dougie Hamilton for ROR trade thrown around on twitter. For some reason Hamilton’s name has been mentioned in trade speculation once again. Getting a player of Hamilton’s caliber while adding Dahlin in the draft immediately makes our defense close to playoff caliber. If the Flames are seriously considering trading Hamilton I think this deal would make a lot of sense.
The Canadiens were one of the teams reportedly interested in ROR but it’s tough to find a trade that makes sense. Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk are both involved in trade speculation but I don’t think either really moves the dial for the Sabres. Their prospects are underwhelming aside from Victor Mete, Noah Juulsen, and Ryan Poehling. While they have four second round picks it’s doubtful they would part with 3rd overall.
Montreal may really want ROR but for the Sabres a trade with the Canadiens doesn’t make a ton of sense.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues were also reportedly interested in ROR at one point and actually have a really nice pool of prospects to offer. Jordan Kyrou or Robert Thomas, two exceptional centers in the OHL, would be a nice starting point in any deal. Klim Kostin had a great year in the AHL as an 18 year old this past season and would fill a need on the wing. Vince Dunn and Jake Walman are solid defensemen prospects but wouldn’t necessarily be main pieces in the trade. The Blues don’t have their own first round pick but do have Winnipeg’s, which will obviously be late.
Now I don’t know if St. Louis would even consider but an ROR for Parayko trade would work out well for the Sabres. I’d have a hard time thinking the Blues would want to part with Parayko however.