Several teams have shown "strong interest" in Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.
Dreger tweeted on Wednesday:
O'Reilly trade talk heating up. Strong interest from the east, but if the Avs don't get the right deal, plan is hold firm and O'Reilly sits.—Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 13, 2013
O'Reilly and the Avalanche have yet to come to terms on a new contract. According to Dreger, via TSN.ca, the team is asking for a proven pro and a top prospect.
So, who has the best chance of landing the 22-year-old?
Craig Custance of ESPN highlighted the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes as possible destinations for the third-year center on Thursday.
The Maple Leafs would make sense in that they have a young core and O'Reilly could develop along with the team. The Leafs have also been hit with the injury bug lately, so this is a good time for Toronto to look at adding some pieces. The ideal player would be a No. 1 center, but O'Reilly is still a solid piece to have and he would fit seamlessly into the system.
While the Maple Leafs have a lot of young talent, the same can't be said about the Flames. They are searching for a young player who can make an impact. In that sense; O'Reilly would be a great add for them. We all know what coach Bob Hartley did with center Marc Savard; he could help O'Reilly reach his potential. The only problem is, not only do the Flames want to hold on to the few young pieces they have, it's somewhat wishful thinking to expect the Avalanche to deal within their own division. Then again, Colorado is behind everyone in the Northwest so it's not like the squad is competing now anyway.
Last but not least, we have the Coyotes. O'Reilly—who posted 55 points last season with the Avalanche (18 goals, 37 assists)—would instantly be Phoenix's best center. Combined with a deep defense led by impressive 26-year-old Keith Yandle, O'Reilly could help boost the Coyotes into the playoffs (they currently sit one point behind the Dallas Stars for the eighth seed in the Western Conference).
O'Reilly would be a great addition to the Coyotes and a perfect fit, but, given Dreger noted that the interest has mainly come from the Eastern Conference, I wonder if it will be the Maple Leafs who ultimately come away with the productive young center. That's my bet at this point.
One thing's for sure: If a team does land O'Reilly, it's going to be for a pretty penny.
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