Shannon: O'Reilly trade rumors are real

June 07, 2018 - 11:40 am

The 2018 offseason for the Buffalo Sabres is going to get more interesting once the Stanley Cup Final ends between the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Sabres have had a thrilling offseason, to this point, after winning the NHL Draft Lottery for the right to draft defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick.

Over the past few days, trade rumors and speculations have started to pick up surrounding the Sabres and center Ryan O'Reilly. Several around the NHL have thought that O'Reilly is being actively shopped by the Sabres, despite being acquired by the team just three years ago at the 2015 NHL Draft.

John Shannon of Sportsnet shed some light on the trade talks, and confirmed that they are not just rumors being thrown into the wind.

"Well, they're real. It's not something that somebody made up and sat in their basement and it just started to spread," Shannon said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Thursday. "It's one of those ones where whether his comments at the end of the season were a factor or not, I wonder what the new leadership (Phil Housley and Jason Botterill) feel about O'Reilly as a player."

Over the last three seasons in Buffalo, O'Reilly has produced well with 65 goals and 176 points in 224 games played. Last season, O'Reilly played his best statistical year in Buffalo with 24 goals and 65 points in 81 games.

O'Reilly, 27, is about to enter the third year of a seven-year contract where he will earn an average annual salary of $7.5 million.

However, there has been much debate as to whether O'Reilly fits what general manager Jason Botterill wants from his team for the long-term future.

"This is a league that is getting younger and faster all the time," Shannon said. "If you look at what Ryan gives to a team, the one thing that he's not giving to it is good foot speed. At the same time, there are other intangibles that he has that I think they would regret trading him for. They're going to need somebody like him. He's a good leader, somebody that looks after the young guys really well, and he wins a lot of faceoffs. From that perspective, there's lots of positives in O'Reilly's game put into what the Sabres need, but at the same time, there is a reality that he may not be a Sabre by July 1st."

As Shannon mentioned earlier, O'Reilly had expressed his frustrations at the end of the year when he said that he had "lost his love for the game" at several points last season. This past season was a rough start for not only O'Reilly, but for most of the players on the roster. At the end of it all, the Sabres ended up finishing in last place for the third time in five seasons.

Aside from the speculations of whether or not O'Reilly will be traded, there have been some thoughts as to what O'Reilly can fetch the Sabres in return.

There have been reports that the Sabres could be looking for a similar return that the Philadelphia Flyers got when they traded forward Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings back in 2011. That trade saw Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a second round pick go from the Kings to the Flyers.

While the other assets that the Sabres may inquire about are not known, Shannon believes that a second round pick for O'Reilly is fair, partly given his high salary cap hit.

"It'd be difficult to sit here and say that they should get a first round pick for him because the value of a first round draft pick might be a lot higher than what Ryan O'Reilly is. One would suspect that it's a second round draft pick for me," Shannon said.

The speculations surrounding O'Reilly have also been about which teams may be interested in bringing in the two-way centerman. TSN's Bob McKenzie has pointed towards the Carolina Hurricanes and Vancouver Canucks having expressed interest in O'Reilly. However, the number of teams that may have interest in him may be much bigger than we anticipate.

Shannon feels that one team that could use the services of O'Reilly and that would be the best fit is the Montreal Canadiens.

"The one place that does make more sense than any other is Montreal," Shannon said. "They have such a lack of centermen. That is a team that needs somebody, needs strength down the middle. They have zero."

One player that Shannon believes is available that could be part of the return for O'Reilly is 24-year-old, Alex Galchenyuk.

Galchenyuk was a former third overall pick of the Canadiens back in the 20112 NHL Draft. The young forward has spent his entire six-year career with the Canadiens, scoring 108 goals and registering 255 points in 418 games.

Shannon suggests that a change of scenery may be good for the young scoring forward.

"The think with Alex Galchenyuk is that there's no doubt that he's talented, but all of last year they played him all over the map. They played him on either wing and they played him at center. They played him on the first line, and they played him on the fourth line," Shannon said. "The one thing that hockey players need in order to succeed, in my mind, is consistency. If somebody was able to say we're going to play you as the No. 2 center and stick with you for 82 games, I think there's something that might come positive out of this. But I don't think there's any question that Alex Galchenyuk is available at this point."

Shannon also touched base on several other topics from around the NHL, including the situation with Erik Karlsson in Ottawa, the Carolina Hurricanes, and Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Listen to the entire interview below:

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