Breaking: Ryan O’Reilly has been traded

Wow… who saw this move coming!?

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According to a report from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Buffalo Sabres have traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.

More on this to come.

Blues insider Jeremy Rutherford breaks down the full deal below:

Lost in all the drama surrounding the opening of NHL free agency and huge contracts for players like John Tavares, Paul Stastny and James van Rimesdyk, the focus is off the trade market for the first time in weeks. 

Trade bait targets like Erik Karlsson, Ryan O’Reilly and Jeff Skinner have taken a back seat today as teams and general managers jockey for position and attempt to improve themselves via free agency. But wait… not so fast.

According to a report from Buffalo Sabres insider Jon Vogl, O’Reilly could be on the move today as he’s owed a $7.5 million signing bonus by midnight ET. If the Sabres want to avoid paying out the bonus, they’ll need to trade him today.

Jason Botterill confirms the signing bonus for Ryan O’Reilly isn’t due until the end of the day and talks continue.

As Vogl reports, Botterill confirmed the news then also commented on a possible trade, saying:

“It certainly to me changes the dynamic of the asking price.” - Jason Botterill on Buffalo paying the Ryan O’Reilly bonus before a trade

For what it’s worth, O’Reilly has been linked to both the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues in trade rumors. But New York Post  columnist Larry Brooks is reporting that the New York Islanders have expressed interest in acquiring O’Reilly, which makes an awful lot of sense with how things played out with superstar Tavares, now of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Islanders in on O’Reilly trade talks with Buffalo, we are told. Center is owed $7.5M bonus by midnight. Return package obviously would change from today to tomorrow.

The Blues, of course, added center Tyler Bozak in free agency this morning, while the Habs added veteran Tomas Plekanec. Does this change things for either team? Maybe… maybe not. There’s no denying that O’Reilly is a better player than both of those two players…  but is he worth paying that $7.5 million bonus to? That’s a question for the Blues and Habs ownership.

Don't be surprised if O'Reilly finds himself with a new locality by midnight Eastern Time. If in fact the Sabres elect to hang on to him past midnight, the asking price becomes much, MUCH lower.