It was bound to happen at some point. Ryan O’Reilly wasn’t going to last as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. And when the team traded for Carl Soderberg, O’Reilly’s fate became clear. Colorado intended to move him.
Indeed, Colorado did move O’Reilly prior to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. It’s a fresh start for both teams, as Colorado gets a chance to add some fresh young talent into its roster, and O’Reilly gets a chance to reinvigorate his career as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
The saga of O’Reilly and the Avalanche is best suited for a lifetime movie. The 24-year-old thought he was worth more than what Colorado was willing to pay him. The Denver Post reported that O’Reilly was seeking a deal in the $8 million per year range.
He was owed $6.2 million for the 2015-16 season, but somehow decided that he was a more valuable player than that deal would indicate. O’Reilly had been a key part of the Avalanche franchise since his debut in the 2009-10 season. It took him a couple of seasons to become acclimated to NHL play, but he quickly established himself as a 55 point player during his third year with the team.
O’Reilly then proceeded to post 20 points during the NHL lockout year, and career high 64 for the 2013-14 season. However, the most recent campaign failed to see O’Reilly capitalize on his breakout season. He only managed to score 17 goals, down from his career high 28 the previous season.
As a result, O’Reilly only mustered 55 points on the season. Many in Colorado were expecting more from their young star, but tension between the himself and the franchise severely hindered his play. It now seems that O’Reilly can finally be free of Colorado. Buffalo was looking to make a big impact over the Draft weekend, and obtaining O’Reilly was one of the key aspects of doing so.
Buffalo G.M. Tim Murray couldn’t stop gushing about his newest acquisition.
“His hockey sense is off the charts,” Murray told reporters. “He makes everybody around him better. I love his work ethic on and off the ice. I love his skill level. There’s nothing I don’t like about him.”
It’s obvious that Murray isn’t scared away by O’Reilly’s reputation with the Avalanche. He also knows that O’Reilly is seeking a fairly substantial contract, and he seems inclined to do offer him the big money.
“Yeah, I assume I’m going to have to. You know going in when you make a trade like this that negotiations will have to start at a high number”, said Murray.
Regardless of O’Reilly’s past issues in Colorado, he will get a chance at a fresh start on Buffalo team that has added Robin Lehner, Evander Kane, and Jack Eichel. There is no doubt O’Reilly will have an impact on the Sabres, but hopefully it’s on more than just their pocket books.