Breaking: Sabres’ O’Reilly on the move?

It’s not just the free agents making headlines today!

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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

Interesting. You gotta love the way Botterill speaks so openly about his players. Could you imagine any other general managers talking about the asking price of their star player?

For what it’s worth, O’Reilly has been linked to both the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues in trade rumors. 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.

Wherever O'Reilly ends up in 2018-19 and beyond, the team acquiring him will be getting a very valuable player. Despite earning a steep $7.5 million against the salary cap, O'Reilly is still a very productive center and a great two-way defensive player. He managed 24 goals and 61 points in 81 games with the Sabres last season and is signed for an additional five seasons. Stay tuned.