Ryan O’Reilly Colorado Avalanche Trade Rumors Re-emerge

The Avalanche should proceed with caution if they truly plan on trading Ryan O’Reilly. I’d only hit accept, if the offer at their fingertips blows them out of the water. O’Reilly is the type of player I think this team should hang on to.

Well, this isn’t exactly going to come as new news to most Colorado Avalanche fans, but it appears that Ryan O’Reilly may be on the trading block. It also appears that Adrian Dater has re-emerged in the hockey scene, and he swung for the fences in his first tweet back.

The Avalanche aren’t having the same success they had last season, and O’Reilly didn’t exactly commit himself to the team long-term with the 2-year contract he signed for $6M per, minutes before a scheduled arbitration hearing.

The Avs have a need for a top-4 defenseman, particularly a guy who can play top pairing minutes with Erik Johnson. With other young stars Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon in the fold already, and the potential for a top draft choice looming, it makes sense that O’Reilly would be the odd man out.

However, I don’t think the Avalanche should be so fast to trade O’Reilly.

O’Reilly has gotten a lot of heat this season, and while some of it is deserved, I think this is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for.” I just get a bad feeling when I think about trading Factor, and think that he is the type of player who you want on your side.

O’Reilly has been the 2nd best possession forward on the Avalanche behind Gabriel Landeskog for most of the season, and while his goal scoring numbers have been down, I think that is largely due to bad luck. O’Reilly boasts a shooting percentage of 7.4, which has actually come up a tick since the first month or so of the season. Coincidentally, O’Reilly has been seeing a bit more success on the scoresheet lately, and now has 6 goals and 14 assists in 36 games for the season.

For context, Nathan MacKinnon also has 6 goals and Gabriel Landeskog has 7. O’Reilly isn’t alone in his struggles this season. I also don’t think you judge a guy on two months of below average production. Sidney Crosby is on the worst scoring pace of his career, with 38 points in 33 games. Guys can sometimes go through periods where they just aren’t producing.

Plus, it’s just harder to score in the NHL this season, than it has been since the 2004-05 lockout. The Avalanche are certainly having their troubles, averaging a measly 2.44 goals per game this season, after racking up nearly 3 goals per game last year. It’s a circular thing, but the Avs aren’t scoring because their big guns aren’t scoring, but the big guns aren’t scoring because the Avs aren’t scoring as well. That makes sense if you have a slightly goofy mind like I do.

The point is, I think Ryan O’Reilly has still been pretty close to vintage Ryan O’Reilly this season. He just hasn’t been getting the puck luck to really excel on the scoresheet. Long term, I still think he has a helluva career ahead of him, and I think he makes any team he skates for a better team.

For me, it’s all about taking a step back, and re-evaluating the type of player Ryan O’Reilly actually is, and what he needs to do going forward. O’Reilly isn’t going to be a 30 goal scorer in the NHL. He just isn’t. The 28 goals he got last season is going to be his number when everything goes right for him. O’Reilly is a guy who’s going to chip in 20-25 goals, and 50-60 points every season.

O’Reilly is a player who is excellent in his own zone. Can play all three phases, even strength, shorthanded, and the power play. He can play all three forward positions, and is above average at faceoffs. O’Reilly is a jack of all trades. When he was drafted, he was never expected to tear up the scoresheet. It just sort of happened, because of the type of work ethic he has.

I hear O’Reilly getting called “soft” and “lazy” this season, and it really irks me. This guy is ALWAYS the last one off the ice at practice. He is always working on something extra, and busts his hump as hard as anyone. O’Reilly’s game has never been a heavy one. He relies more on positioning, smarts, and a quick stick to be effective.

For the most part, O’Reilly still has brought all of those attributes to the table this season. Regardless of the ball situation on said table. I think a lot of Avs fans are guilty of making a knee jerk reaction, because they got emotional over his contract disputes. I’m not going to judge that. You can root for a guy, or root against a guy, and that’s not my place to judge.

However, I can honestly say, I think that people’s vision has clouded on O’Reilly more than anyone on this team. You can love the guy or hate the guy, but objectively, I think he’s a great player, and I want him to be on the Avalanche long term.

Unfortunately, it looks like I may not get my wish. I am just very apprehensive about trading him right now. The Avalanche haven’t impressed me with their track record on trades in recent history. I don’t want to get into specifics, but let’s just say I think the Avs gave up more than they gained in the Stuart, Briere, Talbot, and Berra deals.

I also think it’s risky to trade a guy when his numbers are down. This isn’t how you maximize your rate of return. O’Reilly’s value isn’t as high as it could be, and his contract dilemmas of the past also are going to chip away at his value. Maybe the Avalanche get their doors knocked off, and a team is willing to just throw an elite defenseman back at us. But to me, this is highly unlikely.

The Avalanche will likely be settling for an underperforming project, a significantly flawed defenseman, or who knows what if they do ultimately decide to ship O’Reilly out of town. This scares the pudding out of me. The grass is always greener… Remember that, Avs fans.

I think that O’Reilly taking a step back offensively this season, might be a huge blessing for the Avalanche. To me, this gives them a real opportunity to sign him to a reasonable long-term deal. In the long run, this is what everyone should want.

Sure, I’d love a shiny new defenseman on this roster, but I just don’t have the confidence in Avs management to pull that off with O’Reilly as the tradebait. The #AvsNewBrass needs to prove to me that they can outfox another team in a trade, before I will start believing in making an O’Reilly trade. Until then, I view trading him as giving up on him. And to me, that would be a huge mistake.