The Colorado Avalanche's struggles this season continue to provide fodder for trade rumors involving versatile forward Ryan O'Reilly, winner of the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy.
It's well known the Avalanche lack skilled blueline depth, which is reflected in their woeful shots-against per game and puck-possession numbers. Some pundits believe the 23-year-old O'Reilly could fetch the Avs a top-two defenseman. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggests shipping O'Reilly to Arizona for Coyotes blueliner Keith Yandle makes sense for both clubs, though O'Reilly's unrestricted free agent status in 2016 could be a sticking point.
O'Reilly contract and his contentious negotiation history with the Avalanche seems the basis for the rumors. His annual cap hit is $6 million but in actual salary he's making $5.8 million this season and $6.2 million for 2015-16. Should he test the 2016 free-agent market he could command over $8-million annually.
TSN's Bob McKenzie, appearing on NBC Sports' NHL Live, claims the Avalanche aren't shopping O'Reilly, though he believes they're gauging his trade value with clubs who have blueline assets they need. McKenzie doubts O'Reilly is dealt by the trade deadline, but claims “everyone in hockey” assumes the center will be traded before he enters the final season of his current contract.
Interested teams will want assurances they can re-sign O'Reilly before agreeing to a trade. The last thing a GM wants is to give up assets for a star who'll bolt for free agency in a year's time. They must be prepared to pay big bucks for O'Reilly. As his negotiation history indicates, he's not going to accept discounts.
MYERS STILL SOUGHT IN TRADES
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers has spent much of this season as a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. He's been linked to teams lacking depth in skilled top-four defensemen (Colorado Avalanche) or to clubs like the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings needing a top-four blueliner with a right-handed shot.
Speculation claimed Sabres GM Tim Murray set a high asking price for the 24-year-old Myers. Ken Campbell recently claimed Murray sought a return of prospect Dylan Larkin, a roster player like Riley Sheahan or Tomas Jurco and a first-round pick.
Murray, however, told NHL.com's Dan Rosen he has no desire to trade Myers. While acknowledging he's received some calls, the Sabres GM said he's never reached out to another team to discuss moving the 6-foot-8, 219-pound rearguard. Murray said it would take a “major, major offer” to convince him to trade Myers, which he's not pursuing.
Myers’ teammate, winger Chris Stewart, was also frequently mentioned as a possible trade candidate during this season, but the chatter about him has quieted of late. His ongoing offensive struggles (only 12 points in 43 games) and $4.15-million cap hit are stumbling blocks. It's also rumored Murray seeks a first-round pick and a top prospect for the 27-year-old right wing.
Murray may be counting on Stewart's trade value to increase closer to the March 2nd trade deadline. Still, it's unlikely he'll get anything close to a first-rounder or top prospect in return.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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