Friedman: I do believe the Maple Leafs would be very interested (in Ryan O’Reilly)

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman joined 590 this morning to talk about the Avalanche and their ongoing situation with Ryan O’Reilly, and he believes the Leafs might be a player if things go sour. 

Apparently Joe Sakic talked via conference to give an update on the whole thing, and whether or not he’s shopping the center. 

Here’s what Friedman had to say about it (Sportsnet Audio/Transcript via Chris Nichols of TSS):

“It’s not that – the news was not that he said he’s not shopping O’Reilly, the news was that Joe Sakic made it very clear that he did not want to go into a situation where this was going to be a distraction for O’Reilly or the Avalanche next season…So they are looking at a situation where if they don’t think they can get him signed, they are going to trade him…They may not be able to. I think the sense is they probably can’t, so they’re really listening hard, I guess, on him…And I do believe the Maple Leafs would be very interested.”

People sometimes forget that O’Reilly is only 24-years-old. This doesn’t signal the Leafs abandoning their plan to rebuild, but it would require a substantial trade for a major building block.

It makes sense that Toronto would go down this route if O’Reilly does become available. They’ve been painfully weak down the middle for years, particularly on the defensive side of the puck, and O’Reilly is a fancy stats favourite who can really push the puck in the right direction. Did I mention he’s younger than Kadri?

If O’Reilly is being shopped, the Leafs should be interested. And It’s nice to see that they likely would be. But what would the Avalanche be seeking? Well, Friedman went to another radio station to talk about that.

From Sportsnet 960 (again, transcript by Nichols, who is a wizard):

“…I do think if you’ve got somebody who is a leftie shot, a defenseman who can play top 4, then you potentially have a match for what Colorado is looking for.”

The Leafs happen to have one or two of them kicking around, coincidentally. 

  • Puck_Stops_Here

    I would for one would not be interested in O’Reilly. He’s a great but I say no. You would have to give a lot for a player for his talent and if they are truly rebuilding this will only set them back. Also if this rebuild takes 5 years, O’Reilly would be 30 years old by the time they could compete. They have to stop using band aids and duct tape to patch the team, that’s what got them here in the first place.

    • FlareKnight

      I have to disagree. Drafting and developing players is of paramount importance but even for the best of management groups it’s a real crap shoot! If you can get a proven guy who’s still that young you do it every time! The price has to be right of course but it’s a no brainier. If you could get oreilly for phaneuf with 1.5 retained and you’re confident you can resign oreilly I think you do that trade. If it’s oreilly for Kessel then you have Colorado throw in their 10th overall, and maybe you take back a bad contract.

      • Puck_Stops_Here

        Colorado I think wouldn’t be trading orielly for guys like phaneuf, or other core members. Their going to want the same as toronto is going after. They’ll want good young players, prospects, and picks. Their not just going to give him away.

        I think Toronto should just rebuild from within. Acquire as many picks and prospects and during free agency just go with low risk players that could be moved at the trade deadline. Like you said, picks and prospects are never a sure thing but Toronto hasn’t started from scratch before and really developed their prospects. They’ve just duct taped the teams not just since the lockout 10 years ago, but for the last 2 decades and it hasn’t worked. Time to do something new.

        • silentbob

          I think most people would agree they should rebuild from within, but that doesn’t mean they have to draft an entire 22 man roster.

          If they can get O’Reilly at a good cost (and I disagree that it would take young assets, I think the Av’s want to be done with their rebuild at this point) and he can be someone who is around for a while, is a leader, can be a role model on and off the ice for the younger players we should start seeing in the next few years, its a good move.

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting getting O’Reilly and ending the rebuild.

    • FlareKnight

      Agreed. It’s time to stop trying to rebuild this team using the castoffs of other teams. That’s how we got in this mess in the first place, paying extremely high prices for parts other teams didn’t need to keep.

      How much are you really going to pay to trade for your future second line center? He’s not going to be the top guy, he doesn’t have the offense for it.

      Not to mention it’s a guy who is a pending UFA. He can get money elsewhere and not be stuck in the start of a major rebuild.

      I get the dream that we can dump what people feel is a unneeded part in Gardiner for someone like O’Reilly but Colorado probably isn’t that stupid.

  • Quinten Smids

    Obviously, it would all depend on whether or not he could be resigned, and whether the deal would be a t a reasonable cost. I’d think if he were likely to test free agency, it wouldn’t be a sensible move to give up assets for him. We might as well simply wait until next July and attempt to sign him then. However, if you can get him to essentially commit to a deal before making the trade it would make some sense. I wouldn’t be willing to deal Gardiner for him, as they are similar ages and Gardiner’s contract is likely to be more valuable than the contract O’Reilly signs. But O’Reilly is definitely young enough that I’d be willing to make a trade if we can get him pretty cheaply. Having a forward core of O’Reilly, Nylander, Kadri, Marner/Strome and then Kessel/JVR or their trade returns would be a great foundation for the rebuild.

  • silentbob

    I love Ryan as a hockey player. I hate his contract. He has never scored more than 60 points in a season. He is not a first line elite center. He is a very good center who is best suited to play second line. He is a better version of Kesler from the ducks. He is already being paid 6.5 per. He will want in the 7 range and that is too much for him. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the Leafs are finally getting out of salary cap jail. Why would you turn around and go right back in? I can guarantee after 2 years of 55-60 points at 7+ per season the fans will turn on him. He is a very good player just not worth the salary cap implacations.

    • O’Reilly isn’t just his output. You sort of need to value him along the same lines as the way you’d value someone like Bergeron, that do-it-all kinda guy is what you’d be investing in, IMO. I’m not saying he’s as good as Bergeron, but he’s more than just 60 points. Bergeron is in that 7M range for the Bruins and he earns it.

      Again, just my opinion and I don’t speak for the site as a whole. I know we’ve all debated it a few times in the past actually.

  • silentbob

    If the Leafs think O’Reilly is a player they want in the locker room, maybe as the captain while they are developing bring up young players over the next few years….

    O’Reilly is 3 1/2 years younger then Kessel and a lot of people are making the argument that he is young enough to keep around during the rebuild, so I don’t think you can say O’Reilly is too old for that. For me its more a question if he is a fit in terms of a leader and style wise and as a future elder states man of the team

  • Gary Empey

    The main difference between the trading of ROR and Kessel is Colorado feels that if they do not trade him, they lose him for nothing or they have to settle at next years deadline.
    Kessel is locked up, maybe not a good thing when you listen to opinions however the team that gets him, has him for the next 7 years.

  • Gary Empey

    Maybe. I’m not convinced he’s worth the salary he’s going to want. Also wouldn’t like parting with Gardiner. Looking at the Leafs roster the only guys I see with the potential to be core players in the future are Kadri, Reilly, and Gardiner, and maybe Kessel if you can’t get good value for him in a trade.