Sometimes it feels like there is no solution for the issues you face. In the National Hockey League, experts often offer a change of scenery as the ultimate way of starting over, getting over these issues. It may seems exaggerated or over the top for some fans, but in this case, I think I have no choice but to agree... A trade might be the only way. Especially when you're talking about the Buffalo Sabres.
The team's 2017-18 performance fell well short of even the low expectations for improvement... The Sabres had just 16 points at the end of November and never recovered and finished with the worst home mark in the league... Once the Sabres met up on Monday to clean out their dressing room, centre man Ryan O'Reilly gave a candid interview that broke my heart. The 27-year-old forward explained how the Sabres’ culture of losing has affected him personally to Buffalo News' John Vogl.
“It’s disappointing. It’s sad. I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times. You need to get back to it because it’s just eating myself up and eats the other guys, too. It’s just eating us up, and it’s tough,” O’Reilly said.
“It’s the NHL. It’s the best job in the world, but at times throughout the year I’ve felt I lost it.
“There’s times where I found my game and just enjoy it and it’s fun, but when you lose consistently like this for years, it’s tough.”
While O'Reilly might be sending out the message that he wants out of Buffalo, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun believes major changes are expected in Buffalo this summer, which could make the centre quite happy. LeBrun recently suggested that the Sabres try to move marquee players and make a final push for a rebuild.
"Another team to keep an eye on through this off-season I think is the Buffalo Sabres. General manager Jason Botterill has had one year to closely pay attention to what he’s had here as a first-time GM, and I think he’s ready to make some tangible changes with that team. Obviously, Jack Eichel isn’t going anywhere. He’s the guy that they’re building this team around. But, they are pretty deep up front in terms of some marquee players and would they listen on a guy like Ryan O’Reilly, would they listen on a guy like Sam Reinhart?"
After all, O'Reilly is a strong centreman, who set a new NHL record for faceoff wins in a season. He finished the campaign with 1,274, while registering a new personal season-best 60.0 percent winning percentage. He will also have a chance to attract some rival teams who might want to land his services, as O'Reilly will again represent Canada at the world championships next month in Denmark.
O’Reilly is still under contract for another five years at a $7.5-million cap hit. That price would make him difficult to move, but it’s hard not to believe a change of scenery would be best for both sides. However, he has revealed he would like to be part of the solution in Buffalo going forward, but he did note that he could be traded this summer.
"If something happens and I'm moved, then obviously it's a change that they decide to make. But I want to be here. I want to win here because I feel it would be special here. It's a great city, and they deserve a winning team."