Irresponsible Rumormongering

Should the Rangers trade for Ryan O’Reilly?

Ryan O’Reilly

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?

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  • Nice write-up Kevin. I was thinking exactly of this hypothetical when the O’Reilly rumor popped up yesterday. To me, unless there is some personality issue with O’Reilly, then talent-wise I would definitely make this deal. The problem is that the Rangers are going to be in a major cap squeeze and I think you are underestimating the difference between Stepan & O’Reilly’s contracts. I expect Stepan to only get between $1.5-$2M per if he continues at his current rate of production. If Ryan is sticking to $5M per, then that is a HUGE difference given the cap squeeze Sather will be under. It’s also worth noting that Sather has a history of being stingy with RFA’s lacking arbitration, so it is hard to see him changing his beliefs for another team’s RFA. It also sends a conflicting message to guys that have already gone through the process in the Ranger’s organization.

    • The money would work out for this year, they have an extra $1.25m to work with with Sauer on LTIR. It’s the following two years that are the issue.

  • Zen – I think you’re right that the money could be an issue and you’re certainly right about it sending a conflicting message. Just pulling numbers out of thin air, but I’d guess they could like O’Reilly up for 4-4.5 mil and Step gets about 3. Maybe that’s not accurate, but if so the difference isn’t much

    • It may not be much, but thats still the difference between an additional depth player or two. *shrugs*

      Im torn on it, really.

      I think ultimately, though… I dont do it.

    • MDZ wanted alot more than what Slats offers him. What happened? He signed with out getting his askin price. 2 things that could happen.
      -He resigns with Colorado and gets less than what he asks for
      -He is traded and signs a contract that is close to his asking price or not close to his asking price.

  • I’d be very hesitant to do this. In the short term, it would work out fine, but in the long term it may come back to bite us. Step is the #1 center in training. As Richards ages, Step will get more ice time as the #1 guy. O’Reilly won’t ever be a #1 center.

    • I mentioned to Dave that I think O’Reilly can and will have a Patrice Bergeron like impact. Is he a #1 C based on production? No, but him and David Krejci (who is also not a #1) are a pretty solid 1-2 punch. O’Reilly and Richards would be just as good if not better. I’m not sold on Step growing into a #1 either.

      • I know it can work, but that’s under the 1-2-2/1-4 Claude Julien, a passive coach. Torts plays a very aggressive system where he needs centers who can skate and produce. He’s the anti-Julien.

  • Step will never be a NUMBER 1 center in NY. He hasnt even proven to be a decent number two yet. Miller will over take him.

      • He brings nothing to the game that makes Me feel he will get anywhere near a number one. Hey maybe you have a hard on for him. But he has played with elite tallent like Gaborik he should get atleast that many points. But as of right now he doesnt have the size to be a force. He can not skate with the puck FACT. He is not a difference maker on the PP at all. He doesnt really help make his line mates better. And thats what he was known for when we got him A play maker was what he was suppose to be And he really hasnt become that.

        O’Reilly is better and I say make that trade and twice on Sunday…

  • No deal. Step has been a winner and leader wherever he has played. Patience, gentleman. We r playing NYR hockey now. Nash is starting to show his true abilities now.

  • No dice. Stepan has shown improvement across the board in all categories since becoming a Ranger. Stepan’s faceoff stats have increased each year from pitiful to now over 50% this season (38.5% ’11; 44.5% ’12; 51.9% ’13) I get the small sample size is smaller but he’s increased. Among active Rangers (Boyle doesn’t count as a scratch) he’s the best Ranger center. Stepan has also shown consistent improvement point total wise; while O’Reilly had 2 low point years at 26pts then shot up last year in a contract year.

    O’Reilly while a great all around hockey player doesn’t have 1st line NHL potential and Stepan does. While this isn’t technically a contract hold out it’s pretty close (not a Torts/Slats favorite).

    It comes down to the future. Richards has shown decline and may be a candidate for the other amnesty buyout. Miller and O’Reilly seem close to the same type of player, 2nd-3rd line guys. Stepan is more of a 1st-2nd liner. Colorado wants to kick something else back our way with value, I’ll think about it. Straight up or Stepan+ for O’Reilly who has really only had 1 good year, no. At the very least with the team sitting where it is right now starting to find chemistry and balance trading a roster player for a player who left his KHL team a month ago is a terrible decision.

    • Colorado also isnt as good as the Rangers. Same as with Nash when he was in CBJ. You have to take that into account

  • Kevshockey – I think you’re alluding to the best argument against a deal – it’s just not the right time. I’d rather have O’Reilly than Stepan, but I wouldn’t do a deal midseason. Step is a crucial part of this team’s makeup and chemistry. O’Reilly hasn’t been playing. Just not the right shakeup for a contending team at this junction

      • Ultimately time will tell whether or not this would have been a good move with their stats. The Rangers aren’t going to make this move now, and O’Reilly won’t be available in the offseason (most likely because the Avs need to do something now) to try and pull the trigger then. Ultimately the Avs can get more than Stepan from someone else who is more desperate; and to the Rangers Stepan is worth more than just O’Reilly in a trade. Giving up Stepan+ is not a good move for the organization at all.

        I could see the Rangers attempting to send Boyle and McIlrath to Colorado for O’Reilly and O’Bryne (or one of Colorado’s 4-6th dmen). I could also see Colorado turning it down. But Colorado has little to no size up front and Boyle is still young and fairly affordable.

    • This team is just starting to gel and we want to add a new ingredient to the mixture? I don’t think this is a good idea at this point.

  • I would have no problem trading the following combinations for O’Reilly.

    – Stepan and Miller
    – Stepan and Kreider
    – Kreider and Miller

    O’Reilly is a 1C.

    I can go through his whole hockey history if need be… LOL

  • Interesting idea though you’re right and the FO wouldn’t do such a thing. Step is too young/cheap to trade away for a mild upgrade, and even so success in NY isn’t a foregone conclusion so the last thing the team needs is trading an integral proven commodity for more potential.

    The salary cap issue just makes it more clear that it’s highly unlikely. Good read though…

  • Colorado needs dmen, not saying I advocate a del Zotto for ror deal but that’s interesting.

    As far as Stepan for ror… I would do mcilrath and Stepan for ror plus a middle of the road prospect or mean defenseman SOB?

    • If the Rangers are adding McIlrath, then Stepan should be off the table. Severely undervaluing Stepan there.

      Personally, I wouldn’t do Stepan for ROR straight up. I’d look to see if they want someone like Boyle and a prospect. Since they will likely pass, I doubt this happens.

      • I’d do Boyle plus pretty much any prospect not named JT or Kreider in a second. But I doubt Col would take that, Boyle can’t even crack our lineup right now. Doesn’t do much to help the salary issue either

        • Boyle’s value is low, but he’s still a premier defensive forward on a decent contract. If he gets better than 30% OZone starts, he will chip in 10 goals a year too.

          Of course, that’s my biased take on it. Then again, Slats has proven us wrong again and again.

    • Just a note about Colorado needing defensemen: In a deal like this, where the player has forced the team’s hand, they are just trying to get the best value. They’d like a defenseman, but value is value.

  • Back history:
    – 1st overall pick in the OHL draft
    – in his rookie season up until Christmas he was neck and neck in rookie scoring with Taylor Hall difference being Hall was on a stacked Windsor team, O’Reilly was a peddling Erie team
    – captained Team Ontario to a U17 World Championship on a team that featured Hall, Duchene, Kassian, and Ryan Ellis
    – would have been a dominant player in the OHL but he made Colorado as an 18 year old as a 2nd round pick
    – from his draft class, only Tavares, Duchene and Evander Kane have more points than him

    Fast forward to his time in Colorado, points notwithstanding as they will come, he played all the tough minutes in Colorado as 19-20 year old while still putting up points. Put him on a team that can shelter him a bit more and you’ll get a guy who’ll consistently put up 70-80 points, or close to a point a game (his point production history is there if you dig back), while providing you with solid two way play.

    He projects to be a slightly better version of Patrice Bergeron. I mean he finished 14th in Selke voting last year as 20-21 year old. At worst, he turns out to be Ryan Callahan at 26-28. He won’t.

    (I loved Ryan Callahan in minor hockey and junior, O’Reilly is a way better player.)

    • I never really looked at the peripherals for ROR, he blows Step out of the water.

      ROR – .035 QoC, 12.4 RCorsi, 50% OZ
      Step – .015 QoC, -1.8 RCorsi, 60% OZ

      I should really do my homework. On paper it’s good. But I don’t know much about his on ice ethics or how he would mesh with Torts, which is a big thing.

      • I agree that Stepan had a decent number of points the first 2 seasons, but he lacks that killer instinct and it is not a great overall player (yet). ROR is the real deal now, which is the argument for making the deal. He is a BEAST.

  • And yes I know Callahan isn’t a C, just talking in terms of offensive production.

    O’Reilly is a future captain. Book it.

  • Interesting read. I love trade rumor talk just like my wife likes Days of Our Lives. It’s a guilty pleasure.

    I will admit that I don’t know a lot about Ryan O’Reilly, but I agree that changing the mix of players in the NYR dressing room at this point needs to be considered carefully. I have been dissapointed with Step’s performance so far this season, but it seems like at least part of his trouble is confidence. That can be solved with a few good games strung together and last night (in Boston) he had his best game of the season, IMHO.

    So, I guess I feel like so far Step hasn’t been performing the way a second line center should, but I’m no where near giving up on him yet. If you have been a Rangers fan for more than 10 years you should understand exactly why. I hope he will improve his foot speed and strength because if he can add that to his soft hands and good positioning he’ll be very solid.

    On the other hand, I would be in favor of trading Boyle and a combination of picks and prospects for ROR. It seems to me that Boyle is becoming more and more of a depth forward on this team.
    In my view the Rangers still need to improve in the faceoff circles and Boyle is not good enough there.

  • And for the trade suggestions I’ve made… it’s just a discussion point.

    Colorado has stated they want a prospect and a roster player. So Brian Boyle and pick won’t suffice.

    So roster player (Stepan, Kreider, Del Zotto… take your pick)


    Prospect (Miller, McIlrath, Thomas, Skjei… take your pick)

    Maybe Stepan for O’Reilly straight up is sufficient. Maybe it’s not. That becomes the point of negotiation. End of the day it’s going to be 2 assets (player + prospect) for 1 asset (O’Reilly).

    If it’s too much to stomach then offer sheet him and you give up a 1st, 2nd and 3rd, though you don’t have a 1st in ’13.

    If that’s still too much, you walk away and let Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh or Carolina get him.

    My point is if you’re the aggressive one on this deal and in on him first, you might have the upper hand. Look at the Nash deal, the Rangers were in on him first and as a result ended up getting him.

    Do you start with Stepan and Miller? No. But if you have to be aware that ultimately that’s what it could cost you. Of course you come in a little lower.

    And if you say well Nash was cheaper, remember ultimately Nash is on the downside of his career, O’Reilly is coming up to his peak years.

    Name one other 22 year old that is on the market? I would say zero.

    • Naturally the discussion begins with Stepan straight up.

      I’d assume COL counters with Stepan + Miller or Kreider.

      NYR counter with Stepan + lesser prospect for ROR and a mid pick.

      It’ll eventually wind up with Stepan+ for ROR+, but they would be the centerpieces.

      Problem here is the cap though (for 2013-2014/2014-2015) if ROR really does get his $5m.

        • So let’s say he settles at $4m, that’s still a little less than $2m more than the projected amount for Stepan. With the cap coming down for two years, the timing may not be right.

          Of course, if they can dump Boyle in the offseason, the timing may be just fine.

  • Ryan O’Reilly right now would be a perfect 2C and by the time Richards moves on he’ll slide into the 1C role. You hope that Sather et al in the meantime will find someone to groom for that 2C role down the road.

    One thing O’Reilly isn’t is a pure goalscorer. But his tremendous hockey sense allows him to be a very good playmaker.

    As for his work ethic and leadership, personally I won’t worry about it. It’s those attributes that allowed him to make the NHL at 18.

  • At 18 when he was named the Otters MVP.

    “Many marvel at his skill. But his work ethic, maturity, leadership and desire to succeed set him apart.”

    That year in the OHL Coaches Poll, as a 18 year old, O’Reilly was selected as the Best Penalty Killer in the Western Conference and was also listed second in the Best on Face-Offs category and tied for third (with London’s John Tavares) as the Conference’s Best Playmaker.

    Here’s a good piece on O’Reilly prior to the draft from another blog.

    O’Reilly biggest knock throughout his career and even as a 16 year old playing in Toronto was his skating. But I think he’s proven that his skating isn’t that much of a hinderance in his NHL career.

    If not for his skating he would have been a sure-fire 1st rounder his draft year.

    And with that I’m done. LOL

  • ROR is the real deal. Stepan and likely Boyle would have to go to make salary space for him.

    If I were Slats I’d certainly kick the tires, but I wouldn’t go overboard trying to make this happen. Also, it depends how much ROR will settle for.

    I read an article a couple months ago after the CBA was agreed on, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, they projected the cap will slowly move up for the next 2-3 years and then suddenly it will begin to skyrocket.

    • It’s down to $64.3m next season, that’s confirmed. I think it’s supposed to drop the season after, but we won’t know until the revenue numbers come in.

  • I would trade them Richards for him. Brad seems to be a step behind since the end of last season and is not really a number 1 center anymore

  • The most I would go is Miller and Boyle. ROR is the type of player you HOPE JT becomes. But you get him now.

    But it probably wont be enough. And would definitely put us is a possible cap issue next year.

  • Would be nice to have but will likely cost too much to keep. UNQUESTIONABLY would NOT trade assets for him unsigned, need to be sign and trade.

    Could see some three ways possible….

  • I would make this trade in a NY minute. Let’s be honest. Stepan needs to improve to retain his second line position. O’Reily is already a premier second line center. I can only dream of a line of O’Reily, Callahan, and Krieder/Miller.

  • If NY were a possible trade partner, I would even consider expanding the trade to include trading Gaborik, who seems to frustrate Torts more than please him. Gaborik has a NTC, but might want to get out from Tort’s demanding system to play in a more open Western Conf. style hockey. Also along with fellow countryman Stastny. So maybe a Gaborik/Stepan for O’Reily/Eric Johnson trade? I would even add a serviceable defenseman – Gilroy or Eminger. The Rangers defense would be elite: McDonagh/Giradi, Staal/Johnson, and DelZotto/Stralman.

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