Ryan O’Reilly Trade Rumors: Five Possible Destinations


Ryan O’Reilly trade rumors have been out there ever since the contract dispute in 2013. Two years later, the situation is still unresolved. O’Reilly has played some of his best hockey this past season, as he tied Matt Duchene at 55 points on his way to surpass him as the number one center.

More from Mile High Sticking

Nevertheless, he may still be traded. After settling with a two-year $12M deal in 2013, O’Reilly will be an unrestricted free agent in 2016. Since a player of his caliber should not be lost in free agency, there are only two possibilities for the Avs: sign him to an extension or trade him before the 2015-16 season starts. If the contract negotiations turn out to be as tough as the last time around, Colorado Avalanche management will waste no time and try to get a trade done as early as on draft day.

The problem is that it won’t be that easy. Teams trading for O’Reilly will want to be sure that O’Reilly signs with them after his contract expires. The Avalanche want an improvement on defense and if a team is ready to give that up, they won’t make the trade if they are afraid to see O’Reilly walk away in free agency.

Still, several teams have shown interest before, but getting the return that Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are hoping for will be a tough task. We looked at a few teams that could be trade partners — with very different outcomes.

Buffalo Sabres

With Tyler Ennis, Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, and Jack Eichel, the Sabres will have many young, talented centers on their roster next season. However, only Tyler Ennis is as experienced as O’Reilly. Furthermore, almost every one of the mentioned centers can play on the wing, O’Reilly included.

Ever since being drafted 33rd overall, 30 slots behind fellow Avalanche Matt Duchene in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, O’Reilly has been the No. 3 center behind Duchene and Paul Stastny. When Stastny left for the St. Louis Blues in 2014, O’Reilly had the chance to prove that he can be more than a bottom-six forward. He did just that when he tied Duchene in points this season.

Still, Duchene is the long-term solution as No. 1 center and Nathan MacKinnon is emerging as the No. 2. A trade to the Buffalo Sabres would finally give O’Reilly the chance to emerge as a No. 1 center, a “Jonathan Toews Lite”, and a mentor for the Sabres’ young forward-core. He would be an immediate improvement to Buffalo’s offense, no matter where he plays.

Potential trade chips: Nikita Zadorov, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators have been linked with the Avalanche before, when Ryan O’Reilly trade rumors emerged. The Sens returned to the playoffs this season, but lost to the Montréal Canadiens in Round 1. One piece that is arguably missing on Ottawa’s roster is another top-six center that can support Kyle Turris. Enter Ryan O’Reilly.

More from Avalanche News

With Curtis Lazar settling on the wing and Mika Zibanejad having yet to prove that he can be a long-term solution on one of the top lines, O’Reilly would be a big insurance. Well, if he re-signs in Ottawa that is. Center-depth is valued about as highly as defense-depth — so O’Reilly would be a great fit in Ottawa.

However, the bigger reason why the Senators are listed here, is that they offer a few interesting options for the Avalanche. On defense, the team has a nice mixture of veterans and youngsters. Especially Patrick Wiercioch, who has been linked with the Avalanche before, Jared Cowen and Cody Ceci would be interesting players in a trade.

Potential trade chips: Cody Ceci, Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, Curtis Lazar

San José Sharks

The San José Sharks will have to enter a little rebuild after missing the playoffs in an overall disappointing season. A first step will be to part ways with their former stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. That does not mean that the Avalanche should trade O’Reilly for one of the two, it simply means that there may be some major off-season roster moves coming in California.

If O’Reilly was to join the Sharks, other moves would have to be made first. As of now, there is no room for another center, with Thornton, Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl already in the lineup. If one of them does get moved, however, O’Reilly may be an important piece to start the new era.

Potential trade chips: Mirco Mueller, Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames’ role in Ryan O’Reilly trade rumors is slightly different from the other teams’. Back in 2013, O’Reilly signed an offer-sheet from the Flames that was matched by the Avalanche, which led to him returning to Denver. However, not many in Calgary will be thinking back to that event anymore. The Flames found other ways to return to more successful times, reaching Round 2 of the 2015 playoffs, before losing to the Western Conference finalist from Anaheim.

Nevertheless, if O’Reilly joined the Flames now, he would easily be the best center on the roster, ahead of Sean Monahan. A player like O’Reilly can make a big difference throughout the season and in the playoffs. He would be a huge improvement to the Flames’ current roster. Furthermore, they have a few defenseman in their organization that would be very interesting for the Avalanche.

Potential trade chips: Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Tyler Wotherspoon, Mikael Backlund, Joe Colborne

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs fans will know that just about every Ontario-born player is rumored to be wanting to join the Leafs at some point in their careers. Alongside John Tavares and Steven Stamkos, O’Reilly is no exception. As opposed to Tavares and Stamkos, however, there is a legit chance that O’Reilly might end up as a member of the team rather sooner than later.

The Leafs have been craving for a No. 1 center for quite some time now. Neither Tyler Bozak nor Nazem Kadri could really fill that void. O’Reilly would be the ideal addition to the team. Also, if there is one team that can be the perfect trade partner for any team in the league, it is the Maple Leafs, as virtually no player on the team is untouchable.

Most of the Ryan O’Reilly trade rumors in Toronto have included giant defenseman Dion Phaneuf. However, he is not what the Avalanche are seeking — at least not with his current contract. Nevertheless, there are several interesting players on the roster as well.

Potential trade chips: Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Joffrey Lupul

Next: What If Avs Had Picked Vlasic Over Stoa In 2005?