Just prior to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic was seen in conference with Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray. At the beginning of the draft, the announcement came — the Ryan O’Reilly trade was finally happening. After three years of trade rumors, it was finally going down.
The terms of the deal were that center Ryan O’Reilly and left wing Jamie McGinn were going to Buffalo in exchange for forward Mikhail Grigorenko, defenseman Nikita Zadorov, prospect JT Comphor and the 31-overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Sabre Noise editor Tim Redinger shared his thoughts on the trade. First of all, after expressing initial surprise that the two teams were still talking after all the speculation, Redinger remarked that he wasn’t at all surprised at what the Sabres offered.
About forward Mikhail Grigorenko, Redinger shared the following:
"“The 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, the Buffalo Sabres mismanaged the start of his NHL career, but he didn’t do himself any favors. Grigorenko shows promise. But his immaturity and the way he handled being sent to the minors, and then letting his agent slip that he was considering the KHL if the Buffalo Sabres didn’t sign him to a one way deal – these are childish games from a player that hadn’t grown in wisdom.”"
Granted, this doesn’t sound as promising as Avs fans would like from their new forward — who is, after all, only 21 at this time. However, Redinger acknowledges that being reunited with Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy might improve matters with Grigorenko — Roy coached Grigorenko in the QMJHL Quebec Remparts.
In fact, after a game the Avalanche played against the Sabres, Roy said of Grigorenko:
"“I think he’s learning. Some players develop faster than others. I’m sure the expectations are very high for him in Buffalo, but Grigo has a lot of skills, has a lot of hockey sense.”"
Redinger expressed more reluctance to see Nikita Zadorov leave the Sabres. According to Tim Zadarov is also immature:
"“He was sent to the press box twice last year for reporting late. I don’t think Murray was high on the kid after the late reports, and while he would have been a great addition to the blue line – if there was no deal on the table – Tim Murray isn’t afraid of trading a good prospect to get what he wants.”"
There’s no way Roy and Sakic didn’t know about the late reports. However, coach Roy has praised the Avalanche specifically for the level of leadership so many players display. He knows he has veterans like Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay who can even be father figures to the 20-year-old if necessary. And they know they have a leader in Erik Johnson on the blueline.
In short, the Colorado Avalanche execs know that, if the worst thing you can say about Grigorenko and Zadarov is that they’re young and immature, well the team is especially well-equipped to bolster young players — the entire core is based on youth. There are first-overall, second-overall, third-overall draftees, trophy winners, Olympic medalists and overall world-class talent represented on the Avalanche roster.
Those leaders can help the two new young-uns find their way.
On the other side of the spectrum, Colorado is finally out from under the O’Reilly trade rumors cloud. He’s been traded, and very few fans are sad to see him go after they heard he wanted $7.5 million or, as Denver Post writer Mike Chambers reported, $8 million. That’s the type of non-hockey problem that was going to be hard to overcome.
As for the loss of winger Jamie McGinn, it’s not overly surprising the Avs were willing to throw him into the package. McGinn is a versatile forward, but he’s not top-notch talent. More importantly, McGinn has suffered some significant injuries in a short amount of time. In fact, at the end of the season Patrick Roy questioned whether McGinn woudl even be ready for next season after missing the majority of last year.
The Avalanche ended up trading their #31 pick to the San Jose Sharks for the #39 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, a second rounder in the 2106 draft and a sixth rounder in the 2017 draft. In truth, that move gave Colorado back the two picks they’d traded to get defenseman Brad Stuart, making Sakic look quite the wiz at negotiating.
With the #39 pick the Avalanche selected left wing AJ Greer, a big kid who just might end up making the team in a couple years.
So, basically the Buffalo Sabres feel good that they have two new quality players — and hey, maybe they have $8 million to throw at Ryan O’Reilly. The Colorado Avalanche feel good that they made such a good haul of promising young talent and finally rid themselves of the O’Reilly contract demon.
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