Buffalo - January 20, 2015 - Seemingly every year for the last 50 or so years, the annual trade rumor mill has featured two names consistently: Tyler Myers and Ryan O’Reilly.
Now, not to defend those who perpetuate those rumors constantly, but there’s reason for it: O’Reilly can’t seem to ever agree on a long-term deal with the Colorado Avalanche, leaving him looking for a new deal every other year. In Buffalo, they’re in the middle of a massive rebuild effort and many see Myers as a movable asset towards said rebuild. Hence all the rumors.
But now, the rumors mills are starting to go in another direction: what if they were traded for each other?
Take it away, Bob McKenzie:
Colorado is believed to be looking for a right-shot defencemen to bolster a right side that already features Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. A mobile, 6-foot-8 shutdown blueliner with some offensive upside like Myers would fill a considerable void on the Avs' blueline. Having young building block forwards such as Duchene, MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog would help to mitigate the loss of O'Reilly.
Myers, who turns 25 next month, is a year older than O'Reilly but is still not yet even really in his prime. He's had a lot of ups and downs since winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2010, but he's certainly demonstrated this season that he's still capable of playing the game at a high level. He's also a fixed-cost asset, under contract for four more years after this one with a $5.5 million cap hit, but an actual cash outlay of only $15.5 million over those four years. That would be an extremely dollar-friendly deal for Colorado.
As for the Sabres, O'Reilly would be a tremendous stabilizing influence on a very young team in the middle of a massive rebuild. If the rest of the season and the draft lottery go according to plan, there's an excellent chance Buffalo will end up with centre Connor McDavid or centre Jack Eichel. Either one would represent a potential No. 1 offensive centre. O'Reilly, with his versatility, complete game and leadership, would be a wonderful mentor in the No. 2 slot, with last year's second overall pick Sam Reinhart as a great potential No. 3 centre.
On paper, it makes sense. The Sabres would not only have the space to give O’Reilly the long-term love he’s looking for, but he’d be an excellent fit in a suddenly deep offensive group. Myers could go to a young team with tons of talent that just needs a boost on defense to make the jump. Everybody’s happy.
But here’s why it won’t happen: teams don’t like giving up assets unless they know they’re winning the deal in a walk. General Managers have a hard time pulling the trigger on deals like this because A.) they don’t want to be the guy who gave up player x and B.) they don’t want to risk being on the losing end of the deal. What if Myers goes to Colorado and flames out? What if the Sabres give up their top defenseman and can’t re-sign O’Reilly long-term? What if bringing him in gives one of their top prospects pause about potential playing time concerns and said prospect demands to be moved?
These are all things to consider, but really, you can’t make an impact via trade unless you take a chance and the old adage goes “you have to give something to get something.” To land a Myers or an O’Reilly, you have to give something worthwhile back in return. You have to take a risk, no matter how small it might actually be.
Ryan O’Reilly may ultimately be traded due to sheer necessity: at some point, the Avalanche are either going to have to sign him or move him because you can only sign a guy to so many bridge deals before he just starts declining everything you put in front of him.
As for Myers? The Sabres are under no deadline to move him. He’s inked for the next several years at a somewhat friendly $5.5 million cap hit. They don’t need to move him to aid the rebuild effort because having him on their blueline aids the rebuild effort. Simply put: they don’t have to move him.
So until the time comes that an O’Reilly contract extension looks like an impossibility, don’t hold your breath waiting for either one of these guys to be traded. But get ready to talk about this again next season.