BUFFALO – At some point today, assuming the Sabres keep Ryan O’Reilly and deposit a $7.5 million bonus in his bank account, the dynamic of any potential trade for the center will change, general manager Jason Botterill said.
On a conference call this afternoon, Botterill explained based on his conversations with other teams, that would mean “anything from an asking price or what we’d be looking for from a trade perspective.”
“But we’ve always said, if we are going to make any movements on our team, we certainly will look at them because of where we finished in the standings, but it would have to make sense to make it to improve our team,” said Botterill, whose Sabres finished dead last in 2017-18.
Botterill isn’t surprised teams have asked him about O’Reilly, a former NHL All-Star who logs big minutes playing in all situations.
“When people are calling me to talk about our team, they’re looking at our good players, and Ryan is certainly one of them,” he said. “We’ve talked about his reputation throughout the league.”
While trading O’Reilly would fetch the Sabres a nice return, it’s likely none of the assets coming back would be able to replace him, at least right away.
With the addition of center John Tavares today, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sabres’ fiercest division rival, possess arguably the league’s best group of pivots. The Sabres need O’Reilly’s checking skills to go against Tavares, Nazem Kadri and Auston Matthews four of five times a season.
Of course, if the money is paid – it’s due today – interested teams could up their offers.