Buffalo Sabres: Could Ryan O’Reilly be traded to Montreal?

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 5: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the KeyBank Center on October 5, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 5: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the KeyBank Center on October 5, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /

The Canadiens are on the lookout for a quality center and one suggested possibility is Ryan O’Reilly, but will the Buffalo Sabres trade him to Montreal?

Speculation about Ryan O’Reilly‘s future with the Buffalo Sabres has been ongoing for some time. And the conversation has only intensified, since he admitted at the end of this past season that there were times when he lost his love for playing hockey.

We’ve already gone on record as saying the criticism O’Reilly received for his comments was unwarranted. At times it almost seems like professional athletes can’t win; they’re either called boring for not being more open and truthful, or they have their words taken out of context on those occasions when they are actually honest.

It didn’t help that one local member of the Buffalo media claimed the 27-year-old was essentially manufacturing a move out of Western New York. However, even if he is, you can’t blame him when it seems at times like the Sabres want to trade him anyway.

For what it’s worth, O’Reilly recently talked about the possibility of playing with Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo, after the Sabres won the NHL lottery draft. As reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News, he said:

"“Obviously, it’s not official yet, but I hope, I’m pretty sure, we’ll be taking him. I’m excited. Watching him, he’s so dynamic with what he’s doing with the puck. He’s just an elite player that any team he goes to he makes better, so I’m definitely very, very excited for that.”"

So, what’s the truth in all of this? Does O’Reilly want to actually leave or stay? Would the Sabres prefer to trade him or keep him?

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Well, we might be about to find out one way or another. At least when considering an article by The Athletic‘s Arpon Basu.

Basu writes that the Montreal Canadiens are on the lookout for a bona fide quality centre. He says there are two legitimate possibilities available on the trade market, and one of them is O’Reilly. (The other is Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes.)

And while there has been no official word the Canadiens are actually interested in O’Reilly, you can certainly understand why he would be an appealing target. Regardless of any loss of passion for playing, he still puts in the effort on the ice.

Consider that the Clinton, Ontario native tallied the second-most points of his career this past season. In addition, he set a new NHL record for faceoff wins in a season.

In theory, O’Reilly is just what the Canadiens are looking for. However, there are a couple of factors to consider, which might deter them from making a move.

First up, Montreal has to decide if the 2009 33rd overall draft pick can handle the responsibility of being their main center. While there is no denying he is an excellent two-way player, as per Pro Hockey Rumors, he might be better-suited to being on the second line.

In addition, there is the matter of O’Reilly’s deal, which still has five years to run. At a cap hit of $7.5 million per season, the contract could be perceived as too much to take on.

Now, these two factors won’t necessarily stop the Canadiens from discussing a trade with the Sabres. However, they will surely impact what sort of package they are prepared to offer.

For now though, it’s just a case of waiting to see if and when any approach is made for O’Reilly. At that point, we should finally find out how much the player and his current team want to stay together.

Next: Matt Moulson finished in Buffalo

What do you make of the Canadiens’ apparent interest in O’Reilly. What would it realistically take for you to accept the Buffalo Sabres trading him to Montreal? Do you even want to see him moved, or would you prefer he returns next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.