To say that things haven’t gone as planned the past few seasons for Ryan O’Reilly and the Buffalo Sabres might be the understatement on the decade. After completely bottoming out in 2014-15 and bringing superstar Jack Eichel into the fold, Sabres general manager Tim Murray pulled a full 180 degree turn in strategy in an attempt to lift his team out from the basement of the NHL. Acquiring O’Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche was a big part of that. As were the acquisitions of Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Brian Gionta, Robin Lehner, Cody Franson and David Legwand. The rest… as we all know… is history.
Instead of dragging themselves out of the depths of the NHL standings, the Sabres sunk even lower. The plan failed. Almost everyone, including Murray himself, from that era is no longer associated with the franchise, yet O’Reilly remains. But… for how long?
In his latest sit down style interview, TSN’s Darren Dreger goes one on one with O’Reilly to get to the bottom of things in Buffalo and sort out what the 27 year old’s future is with the organization. O’Reilly’s blunt assessment of his situation has Sabres fans a little concerned.
“I think I have a pretty good relationship with the GM,” said O’Reilly when asked if he’s heard the trade rumors about himself. “If something happens it happens – that’s hockey and you move on. But I plan and I’m preparing to be in Buffalo; same role, same sort of thing.”
If it happens, it happens? What kind of statement is that? It echoes similar sentiments he made at the end of the regular season when admitted that he and his teammates have been “ok with losing.” That’s not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from one of your best players, let alone one of your locker room leaders.
“Everything I said, I was being honest,” explained O’Reilly about his earlier comments. “When I look at it, when I reflect on the year, who else can I look at? I’m one of the guys that plays the most minutes, and it’s my fault. I want to change.”
Again… does this sound like someone who’s going to whip the Sabres into shape?
Whether or not Sabres GM Jason Botterill is actively shopping O’Reilly on the trade market or not is really just speculation, but it’s obvious that the 60+ point centerman would generate a TON of interest from other teams. O’Reilly is just 27 years old and is signed to a long-term deal at $7.5 million per season for the next five seasons.