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.
“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.