Ryan O’Reilly is apparently on the move in Buffalo. There were several reports last week that the Sabres are looking to trade the center just two full seasons after acquiring him from Colorado and signing him to a massive deal that has five years remaining at a $7.5 million cap hit.
ROR is a top line center who puts up about 60 points per season. For those wondering, he’s basically Derek Stepan, just with five additional points and $1 million more per season. The two are almost identical in terms of production, role, and possession stats. The only difference is the contract.
The thought of having ROR and Mika Zibanejad as your top two centers with Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson developing in sheltered minutes is certainly intriguing. ROR can take the tougher minutes Stepan took as well, potentially leaving the KZB line to face lesser competition. Depth is certainly not a bad thing to have. There are a lot of pro’s to acquiring him.
Even though the Rangers have the cap space to acquire ROR without moving salary, that is a rough deal with a lot of time remaining on it. The Rangers would need to include salary in any deal, likely in the form of Brendan Smith, since Marc Staal isn’t waiving his NMC to go to Buffalo. But even then, Buffalo would need to be on Smith’s list of 10 teams he can be traded to.
Any trade of ROR likely means one of Kevin Hayes, Vlad Namestnikov, or Ryan Spooner needs to be in the deal as well. All three are similar players in terms of production and stats, and all three likely command anywhere from $4 million to $5 million annually over a multi-year deal.
There is certainly a match here with the Rangers and Buffalo. The Rangers have the depth pieces to make it enticing for Buffalo, and ROR is a top line center that the Rangers need to complement Zibanejad. It makes them scary down the middle, adding an element that the team lacked last season.
That said, ROR’s price tag is difficult to swallow. The price likely costs one of those centers, a top pick, and a good prospect. Of course I say that without allowing for the variable of GM stupidity. For all we know, he gets traded for pennies on the dollar. Jeff Gorton would be silly if he didn’t at least kick the tires.