Max Pacioretty at top of Buffalo’s list?

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As the NHL Entry Draft approaches, many trade rumors are surfacing. Some with truth and traction, others made of hopeful wishes. Interestingly enough, there seem to be a number of rumors surrounding the Buffalo Sabres’ 2nd line center, Ryan O’Reilly.

According to Pierre LeBrun, the Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues, and Philadelphia Flyers are the teams that have shown the most interest.

Come to find out, Jeff Marek reported that Montreal Canadiens‘ LW and captain, “Max Pacioretty is on the top of the Buffalo Sabres list.” While these are just reports/rumors as of now, let’s take a look at potential trade scenarios and whether there is a trade that makes sense for both sides.

Ryan O’Reilly (5 years remaining at 7.5 million/year)

O’Reilly is coming off a pretty good year in which he scored 24 goals and a total of 61 points in 81 games. He also set an NHL record for most faceoffs won in a single season (1274) while winning 60% of his draws. Many fans will look at these numbers and question why Buffalo would ever want to trade this kind of production from their 2nd line centerman.

In order to address a position of weakness (wingers), you must sell from a position of strength. With super-prospect Casey Mittelstadt penciled in to play in his first full season with Buffalo, and Jack Eichel anchoring the first line, the center position can be seen as a position of strength.

So why would we not look to trade O’Reilly? The biggest hold on this is because of Mittelstadt’s development. Having him play 3rd line minutes behind Eichel and O’Reilly could be beneficial for him. If Buffalo does decide to trade O’Reilly, Sabres GM Jason Botterill may look to free agency to patch the 2nd line center position until Mittelstadt is ready to take over.

Max Pacioretty (1 year remaining at 4.5 million/year)

Now let’s examine “Buffalo’s top target” in Pacioretty. At 29 years old, he’s not getting any younger. However, he may still have a handful of good years ahead of him. Although coming off of a down year (17 goals, 37 points in 64 games), we have to keep in mind that Montreal really didn’t have any top centers for him to play with.

I’m not saying that it would definitely happen, but playing with a player like Eichel could really boost his production. Being Montreal’s captain, he would also provide some much needed veteran leadership while still being a big threat offensively. Why is the veteran leadership aspect so important? When looking at the importance of leadership, look no further than the Toronto Maple Leafs. After building their roster with talented young players, they went out and paid a hefty price for then 37-year-old UFA, Patrick Marleau. Many people thought this was an overpayment ($6.25mil/year for 3 years), but when the team makes the playoffs, it is hard to argue with the decision. The moral of the story is that veteran leadership DOES matter when building a roster of young talent.

Potential Trade Scenarios:

Before listing these options, please understand that O’Reilly is a very valuable asset that has term left on his deal while Pacioretty could potentially be a rental player. It should also be noted that according to LeBrun, the Sabres have interest in the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. However, it was said that the pick was a “nonstarter” for Montreal’s GM, Marc Bergevin.

Trade #1:

To Buffalo: Max Pacioretty, 2018 3rd overall pick, 2018 Toronto 2nd round pick (56th overall)

To Montreal: Ryan O’Reilly, 2018 32nd overall pick (2nd round), 2019 San Jose 1st round pick, 2018 Minnesota 4th round pick

Trade Breakdown: This would truly be a dream scenario for Buffalo. I honestly don’t know what it would take to pry away the 3rd overall pick, so this trade is a shot in the dark.

Trade #2:

To Buffalo: Max Pacioretty, 2018 3rd overall pick

To Montreal: Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Nylander, 2018 32nd overall pick (2nd round), 2019 2nd round pick

Trade Breakdown: I know what you’re thinking, why would we give up on Nylander while he is still so young? I am a Nylander supporter and definitely wouldn’t want to trade him if we don’t have to. However, the 3rd overall pick would not come cheap. Montreal would likely want a first round pick back for this year, so we send what we can with the 1st pick in the 2nd round.

Trade #3:

To Buffalo: Max Pacioretty, 2018 Chicago 2nd round pick (38th overall), 2019 1st round pick

To Montreal: Ryan O’Reilly, 2019 San Jose 1st round pick

Trade Breakdown: We’ve heard so many times from countless GM’s, “we want to get better now and for the future”. O’Reilly in this particular trade would get you Pacioretty and the 2019 first round pick. I believe this may be a little in Buffalo’s favor so to even it out, Buffalo will send next year’s San Jose 1st rounder (should be in the 20’s) and gain a high pick in the 2nd round this year.

To be honest, no one really knows what the trade would look like if O’Reilly and Pacioretty were swapped. However, it is fun to speculate and see what people think. Leave a comment with your opinion on any of these trade scenarios or maybe one that I did not list.


Tomorrow is Rasmus Dahlin Day!

John Krieger
John Krieger
A Buffalo sports fan from birth who has stayed loyal through many tough years. Now living in Buffalo, NY. Producer of the BHC Podcast and would love to be able to report on future Sabres success. Let’s go Buffalo!
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