The Colorado Avalanche have been marred in a serious contract dispute with 22-year-old center Ryan O’Reilly that has the restricted free agent holding out.
With no end to the negotiations in sight, the team is reportedly ready to pull the trigger on a trade.
According to Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun, the Avalanche have already been in contact with several teams about trading the center away and what the team is asking for in return:
But if the Senators are going to make a deal for O’Reilly, Murray would be required to give up more than he’s prepared to give. The Avs are looking for a roster player who can help right now, a prospect and a draft pick.
Expect O’Reilly to land somewhere as the Avs try to clear up this sour relationship. The Leafs, Bruins, Rangers and Penguins have all held talks with Sherman, who would like to send him to an eastern conference team.
Colorado is a young team that has a bright future, and if the relationship with O’Reilly is damaged beyond repair, the organization can afford to move the center as long as it gets a sufficient return.
There are many teams with the kinds of assets the Avalanche will be looking for, and all of the following locations would be prime for a deal benefiting all sides.
Toronto Maples Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs already have youth at center, but the lackluster play of Mikhail Grabovski and Tyler Bozak will force the club’s hand. O’Reilly could be a serious option.
If the Avalanche would be willing to take one of the two younger struggling centers—Bozak or Grabovski—as well as a draft pick, this could be a deal the Maple Leafs consider.
Toronto has struggled at times this season, but it has played strong defense hockey and is riding hot goaltending. The Maple Leafs need offensive help immediately, and if the only way to infuse the lineup is by shaking it up with a trade, O’Reilly would be worth the risk.
The Ottawa Senators need all the help the team can get through the middle of the lineup, especially with former All-Star center Jason Spezza possibly out for the season (h/t Wayne Scanlan.)
Ottawa has a plethora of potential stars and draft picks that would satisfy what the Avalanche are asking for, and O’Reilly would step onto the ice and become a second-line starter almost immediately for the Senators.
As we have seen in the past with previous trades between these two clubs (h/t The Denver Post), the working relationship is there to get a deal done. The only question now will be if Ottawa is willing to give up what Colorado wants.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are a solid 8-6-1 this season, but their recent struggles (losing two of their last three games) may have the organization finally realizing that the sheer lack of depth at forward is coming back to hurt them.
While the franchise has one of the most talented centers in the league with Brad Richards, the Rangers must realize now that Nash is suffering from an injury (h/t Andrew Gross), a move needs to be made.
Trading for a veteran winger with an expiring contract would be fine, but the lack of skill at center would only deplete the value of the incoming scorer.
What would fit the bill perfectly would be a young center like O’Reilly that can man a second line effectively and make the players around him better.