Ryan O'Reilly pt. II: Revisiting a Trade for ROR

Ryan O'Reilly photo via Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports

Ryan O'Reilly photo via Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports

Back in March, I wrote a piece indicating why Sabres’ General Manager, Tim Murray, would trade for Ryan O’Reilly on draft night. Now with draft night just one day away, let’s revisit the idea.

Since March, O’Reilly finished the season strong for the Avalanche and the Sabres locked up the 2nd overall pick in the McEichel draft. But most importantly, there is not been any headway in contract negotiations between the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly, who is set to become a UFA in 2016.

Joe Sakic’s stance has not changed on ROR since March. He would love him to be part of the Avalanche’s core and would like him signed to an extension before the start of the season. This is and should be his priority- but Joe Sakic is a smart man and understands the risk of losing ROR for nothing as a UFA next summer. Sakic has also said on record multiple times that he does not want O’Reilly and his contract situation to be a distraction next year.As the case was in March, we are still at the conclusion that this summer will either be an extension or trade for ROR.

In terms of an extension with the Avalanche, it seems dubious. The Avs have the cap space for ROR, yet no extension talks have surfaced. This leads me to believe that either ROR doesn’t want to be in Colorado, ownership does not want to pay him a hefty contract, or maybe ROR just has heart set on testing free agency. Regardless, it is hard to see him in Colorado to start the 2016-17 season.

It is time for Joe Sakic to trade Ryan O’Reilly and get substantial return. O’Reilly’s value will peak at about 8pm tomorrow night, at that point Sakic should pull the trigger and get maximum value for his player.

Now let’s take a look at this from Buffalo’s side.

Ryan O’Reilly is a really good player. When you look at his goals and assists they are not eye-popping, but that does not tell the whole story. ROR is regarded as one of the best two-way players in the game and his advanced statistics back up that notion. His even strength per 60 minutes numbers are comparable to Joe Pavelski, Zach Parise, Nicklas Backstrom and Evander Kane (another reason to be excited to see Evander Kane as a Sabre).

But the question is not how good ROR is, Tim Murray is surely aware of that. The question is how much is worth trading for ROR. It is very tough to answer that because of the uncertainty around his contract status. No matter how confident Sabre fans are in Terry Pegula’s ability to lure talent into Buffalo, it is still a risk.

In my opinion, Tim Murray should restrain from giving away prized assets a trade for ROR for three reasons. One is because of contract uncertainty with O’Reilly’s contract. The second is because Murray has other enticing options on draft night. And the third is because if Ryan O’Reilly has his heart set on testing the open market next summer, the Sabres can make him an enticing offer then and only give up financial assets. My offer to Colorado would be picks 21 & 31, Johan Larsson, and Jake McCabe. This is somewhat a lowball offer, yes, but I do not believe another team is confident enough they can re-sign ROR to give up more assets than Buffalo.

However, Tim Murray is much more aggressive than me. My final prediction (altered from March) is Murray trades Nikita Zadorov and the 21st pick to Colorado for Ryan O’Reilly.

It will be tough to lose Zadorov, but if Ryan O’Reilly signs a long-term with the Sabres it will be a fair trade. Regardless, tomorrow night’s draft will be an exciting one for Sabres’ fans.