Lots of talk about Ryan O’Reilly on the series of tubes today. The consensus seems to be that the 23-year-old Colorado center will be wearing a different uniform next season, or even by the end of the current season.
It’s not a simple situation, though. O’Reilly is signed through 2015-16, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent. The difficult part is that he can’t sign an extension until July 1, so if he were to be traded by the March 2 deadline, the acquiring team would want to have some sort of assurance that they could keep him long-term. So maybe this is a deal best left for the offseason.
On the other hand, O’Reilly’s value could theoretically be higher at the deadline if he goes to a playoff team.
Anyway, we came up with a list of five possible destinations. Feel free to list yours below.
Toronto Maple Leafs. Their biggest issue is at center, and has been for a while. Having said that, I’m just not sure what they could offer the Avs in return. If it’s a defenseman Colorado wants, it’s hard to imagine the Leafs giving up a youngster like Morgan Rielly. They’d probably be willing to trade Jake Gardiner, but given his struggles this season, would that be enough? Cody Franson is a possibility we suppose, but he’s also a pending unrestricted free agent.
Buffalo Sabres. According to the rumor mill, the trade could be for d-man Tyler Myers. But here’s my question — isn’t the Sabres’ future already looking pretty good down the middle? Zemgus Girgensons. Sam Reinhart. Mikhail Grigorenko. And quite possibly one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
Arizona Coyotes. We mentioned this possibility in our post about Keith Yandle. I imagine a lot would depend on whether O’Reilly would have interest in signing long-term with the Coyotes. If you were him, would you? Again, as of today, he can go anywhere he pleases come the summer of 2016. That’s a lot of leverage, especially for a 23-year-old.
Montreal Canadiens. Their top two centers are currently Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais. Not terrible, but not great either. A future one-two of Alex Galchenyuk and O’Reilly would be formidable, though. Except like with the Leafs, I’m struggling to think what the Habs could offer in return. Would they give up Alexei Emelin? That could hurt them, given Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar won’t be around much longer.
Washington Capitals. This is pure speculation on my part. It may not make sense whatsoever, given the Caps already have two young centers, Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov, to go with top center Nicklas Backstrom. But O’Reilly would definitely help them this season. Remember, they’ve lacked a good No. 2 center for a while now.