Last week on Twitter I posed the simple question: Would you trade Derek Stepan straight up for Ryan O’Reilly? At the time it was just a hypothetical, but last night the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reported that an O’Reilly trade is likely going to happen.
O’Reilly, of course, is the last of the three star RFAs to continue holding out into the season. Both Jamie Benn and P.K. Subban have been playing with their respective teams for weeks, but O’Reilly and the Avalanche appear to be no closer to a deal.
O’Reilly reportedly wants five-years, $25 million while Colorado, a notoriously stingy franchise, is unwilling to budge from its offers of two-years, $7 million or five-years, $17 million. There seems to be no resolution on the horizon and it’s become very possible that Colorado will trade its star 22-year-old centerman.
The Avalanche presumably wants a #2 center (TSN’s Darren Dreger said a roster player and a top prospect) in return, so Stepan makes sense in that regard (in the sense that Stepan alone could feasibly get a deal done). But O’Reilly’s value is extremely high and he doesn’t have a crazy contract or no-trade clause a la Rick Nash, so there will be no shortage of suitors and there’s probably not much chance Colorado would consider a straight up deal given the other offers O’Reilly would surely fetch.
Still, Rangers fans seemed torn on whether they’d even deal Stepan alone for O’Reilly.
Stepan’s offensive ceiling is higher than O’Reilly’s, but O’Reilly does a little bit of everything. He’s among the best defensive forwards in the league, wins faceoffs, plays on both the power play and penalty kill and has demonstrated tremendous leadership. Stepan is a solid player on both ends of the ice in his own right, but his offensive development has stalled a bit due to his unselfishness and also because he’s not quite fast enough or strong enough to be a star right now. At 23 years old, Stepan still has plenty of time to become a very productive forward, but that’s certainly in question. O’Reilly is a complete player already and would be a perfect fit for coach John Tortorella.
From the financial side of things, Stepan carries a cap hit of only $875k this season, but he will also be an RFA this summer and due for a raise. Even if O’Reilly won’t budge much off his $5 million asking price, the difference between Stepan’s new deal and O’Reilly’s would likely be less than a couple million dollars, so the Rangers could probably make the numbers work even with their upcoming cap issues. (And no, the Rangers won’t be using an offer sheet on O’Reilly because A) They don’t have a first-round pick, B) They can’t afford O’Reilly without shedding future salary, and C) That’s not how the organization does business).
So back to the original hypothetical question: would you pull the trigger on a one-for-one trade? Fans seem split right down the middle on this and while I can understand that the flashes we’ve seen from Stepan are tantalizing, I think this is yet another instance of homegrown bias.
Again, Colorado probably wouldn’t accept Stepan for O’Reilly so this is purely a hypothetical, but would you make that deal? What more would you be willing to add to sweeten the pot, if anything?