Rumor: Habs and Sabres linked in trade talks

This is a blockbuster in the making with both teams looking to change their culture this offseason.

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In case you missed it earlier this week, Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly made some controversial remarks at his season ending press availability, admitting that he’s “lost the love” for hockey after playing three losing seasons in Buffalo.

“It’s crept into all of our games. Yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s sad,” O’Reilly said on Monday, two days after Buffalo closed one of its worst seasons in franchise history. “I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times, and just need to get back to it because it’s eating myself up, and eats the other guys up, too.”

Those words and admitting that the Sabres have adopted a mindset that enables them to be “OK with losing”, hasn’t sat well with Sabres management and fans. This guy is supposed to be a leader and he’s not exactly inspiring any of his teammates with words like this. Of course, this has led to speculation that O’Reilly would rather move on from the Sabres and seek success elsewhere in the NHL. Should he request a trade and should Sabres general manager Jason Botterill survey the trade market, he’ll likely find several interested suitors.

The most likely destination, according to TSN analyst and NHL insider Bob McKenzie, is the struggling Montreal Canadiens. Here was McKenzie’s assessment of the situation from his TSN 690 radio appearance earlier this week”

“And again, I don’t know how eager – I understand what Ray is saying, and in a vacuum I agree 100 percent. I mean, Ryan O’Reilly would be an absolute godsend to the Montreal Canadiens because of the various things he does and the fact he’s a natural center. The fact that, if I remember correctly, played in the World Cup. He can be an elite shutdown guy who has also got some offensive ability and is one of the better faceoff men in the game.”

Interesting. McKenzie isn’t the type to hypothesize things out of thin air. If he’s talking about O’Reilly with the Habs, you have to assume that there’s a little bit of action going on behind the scenes. Now… is it enough to get a deal done? Who knows… like every trade in the NHL it all comes down to the asking price. Given that the Habs are so desperate for a quality #1 or #2 center, O’Reilly likely won’t come cheap. Still, this is definitely worth keeping an eye on. If GM Marc Bergevin and the Habs strike out on New York Islanders superstar John Tavares in free-agency, might he pull the trigger on a deal to land O’Reilly. Again, time will tell.