Well it is all but confirmed now that Ryan O’Reilly has played his last game for the Colorado Avalanche. Of course he has, leave it to Greg Sherman to screw it up with a kid who is 21, great defensively, had a 55 point season, great in the dot, and a leader. With Scott Howson now out in Columbus, this guy is going to step up as Jay Feaster’s greatest challenge as the worst GM in the league. He is a worthy foe no doubt, but Jay is the champ. As they used to say in the WWE, Feaster doesn’t have to beat Sherman, Sherman has to beat Feaster.
Anyway, back to O’Reilly. In doing some extra research for this I found a great stat. You can’t hide your kids on the road in the NHL and you have a disadvantage in the faceoff circle on the road since you have to put your stick down first (a little thing, but its an advantage for the home team). O’Reilly was still 51% in the dot on the road last season at 21 years old (52.8% on the season). 55 points and only -1 on a team that didn’t make the playoffs and he had to matchup against every teams top line. This kid is a coaches dream!
So the question now is weather or not the Avs will trade him this season, or wait until the draft? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know teams should be lined up to get him, so I will take a look at what I believe should be the top 10 teams looking to trade for the kid. Just doing this alphabetically, no particular order.
Anaheim – The Ducks are playing great to start this season. Big win in Chicago last night, they’re leading the tough Pacific division. But they’re thin down the middle. If the Ducks can hang onto Ryan Getzlaf, then they’ll have a great 1-2 punch at center moving forward. If they can’t, then O’Reilly would at least be able to soften the blow as they rebuild. Richard Rackell, Emerson Etem, Peter Holland, lots of trade chips for the Ducks to make a deal.
Buffalo – This is a team that has been very aggressive about improving at center for a year now. The Hodgson trade, drafting Grigorenko and Girgensons in the 1st round of the draft, they know to compete with Boston and now what Ottawa has going on at center that they have to be loaded there. Either one of Grigorenko or Girgensons could go in a deal, as could Luke Adam.
Calgary – For the 2nd year in a row they might have a chance to get a young center that could not only help them now, but is a great building block moving forward. Jay Feaster wouldn’t man up to get Kyle Turris, so I don’t think he will when it comes to O’Reilly either….but he should. Mikael Backlund has had a great start so he might be of interest to the Avs in a package, perhaps with a prospect who has his value through the roof right now like John Gaudreau. Tough to trade in division so the Flames would have to pay more than most teams, but this kid is well worth it.
Chicago – Why would the best team in hockey want to make a move that could disturb what they have going on right now? Because we are only 1/4 of the way through a season. A center like O’Reilly playing behind Toews and in front of Dave Bolland would give them a group of centers that would rival the Kings for best team down the middle in the West. Lots of trading chips in Chicago as they’ve down a nice job keeping the system stockpiled despite being an elite team.
Edmonton – How many times have I said the Oilers desperately need to upgrade down the middle? I’ve never seen what was seemingly a one sided trade won so lopsidedly by the team that seemingly lost the deal (you follow that mess?) But that’s how it went when the Oilers sent Stoll and Greene to LA for Visnovsky, who later became Ryan Whitney. The Oilers badly need a guy like Stoll, and ironically that is who O’Reilly was compared to when drafted. O’Reilly would allow the Oilers to move Gagner to the wing where he belongs. They have lots of chips to deal and like Calgary would have to overpay but it would be worth doing.
Florida – Stephen Weiss could be leaving as a UFA after this season. They have kids like Huberdeau who is currently playing the wing, and Bjugstad who is still in college at Minnesota, but if Weiss left they would be REALLY thin there for at least a few years. Like most of these teams, lots of chips for the Panthers to play with and make a deal to the Avs liking.
Montreal – I said it in my latest mock draft that if they drafted Frederick Gauthier he would be the perfect guy to play behind Alex Galchenyuk. Well so would O’Reilly. Again, they’re in a rebuild but O’Reilly fits into that seeing he just turned 22 last week. Montreal has guys that I’m sure they wouldn’t be heartbroken to deal, but at the same time would interest the Avs like Lars Eller and Louis Leblanc, so the Habs could be my top contender to land him.
Nashville – They don’t NEED O’Reilly, but he would fit in perfectly with how the Preds are built. I know Colin Wilson is playing well to start this season but it would be just like David Poile to pull the trigger on a guy like this. You can never have too many good 2 way centers. Fisher, Legwand, Gaustad. You slot O’Reilly in with those 3 and it would make it miserable on the rest of the Western conference come playoff time. A package around Nick Spalling might make the Avs bite on a deal, plus lots of young D-men who the Avs SHOULD be interested in.
Toronto – If I’m Dave Nonis, I offer the Avs my 1st in 2014 and 2015 along with a 2nd rounder in 2014. Hey, at least this time they would be getting a kid that has a few dimensions to his game! This isn’t as vital for the Leafs as it was coming into the season with how Nazem Kadri has played. I still don’t know if I’m a big fan of Kadri, but he’s played very well. But O’Reilly would still really improve this club provided its the right deal. Nonis might be gun shy to do anything with how this team is rolling right now though.
Washington – This might be the perfect storm, although we will have to see how the big comeback win vs the Panthers last night will affect them. If that doesn’t give them a jolt, then this is THE fit for an O’Reilly trade. A) the Caps are loaded with prospects and young players all over the roster. B) the Caps might need a shakeup as I’ve just discussed. C) they’ve been looking for a 2nd line center for a long time (don’t think Riberio is the answer). D) they need more leaders in their dressing room. E) McPhee and Sherman have done a big deal like this before (Varlamov). Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, their 1st round pick, hell I would even say Mike Green is a trade possibility here. If the Caps want to do a deal here I don’t see how they don’t.
I would watch through this process for the Avs to screw it all up and take a player or players back that don’t amount to anything. This is a poorly run organization. They seemingly have no idea how bad their blueline is (it has been rumored they’ve been dangling Shan O’Brien for a center). Why are you offering Shane O’Brien when your top 4 on defense is Erik Johnson, Ryan Wilson, and I honestly have no idea who is their number 3…it’s THAT bad! Never the less, this will be interesting to watch.
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