A case for trading Ryan O’Reilly

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When former General Manager Tim Murray pulled off what was his biggest and best trade during his tenure, many fans were thrilled about Buffalo acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche.

The Sabres sent defenseman Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher to the Avalanche, along with the No. 31 pick in the draft.

The verdict is still out about Zadorov, who shows occasional glimpses of developing into a very good defenseman, but then at other times looks lost. Compher has been playing on a regular basis this season, and in 33 games, he has six goals and six assists. Compher also has a -16, by far the worse on the team.  Grigorenko left for the KHL, where he continues to struggle.

Shortly after acquiring O’Reilly, Tim Murray moved quickly and signed him to  massive seven-year, 52.5 million-dollar contract. Most of us living in Sabreland had visions of a new savior to lead us into the promised land, better known as the playoffs.

There was a train of thought that Murray had robbed Colorado, and getting ROR was a major coup. Murray was deemed genius for pulling off this deal, and many thought this would become ROR’s team, and he’d be named captain for sure.

Somewhere along the way, something strange happened. ROR did not get named captain, and while producing very decent numbers, really has not been any sort of major force one may have envisioned.

In 45 games this season, ROR has 11 goals and 19 assists. If he continues at this pace, he’ll come in somewhere around 20 goals, and 65+ points. One could argue that he does most of this against the other teams’ top lines.

It should be noted that ROR has never scored over 28 goals in his career (2013-2014), while averaging around or just above 20 per season. So, we are actually getting exactly what we should have expected based on previous seasons.

The big question then becomes, is it enough to justify paying the guy 7.5 million a year? Along with Kyle Okposo (6 mil for the another five seasons), Zach Bogosian (2 more years at $5,142,857 per) and Jason Pominville for another year at $5.6 mil, the team has some major money tied up in under-performing players.

While trading the previously-mentioned players could be a bit more challenging, moving ROR may not be too hard as he could generate interest from a lot of teams. The questions becomes then, should the team try to move him now while he can still give another team some good years?

ROR will turn 27 years old in a few weeks and from there, most players tend to either stay the same or see their game regress. He will be well over 30 when his contract expires.

Okposo has already regressed in a big way, and while he performs fairly decently, he is getting huge money and will be hard-pressed to come close to being the player the team thought they were getting. He is 29, and will be 34 when his contract is done.

GM Jason Botterill has many big questions to answer moving forward with the team, and what to do with Ryan O’Reilly just may become one of the biggest dilemmas.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts.

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