Latest Sabres and Rangers Speculation – April 14, 2018

by | Apr 14, 2018 | Rumors | 20 comments

Will the Sabres trade Ryan O’Reilly? Will Ilya Kovalchuk sign with the Rangers? The latest in your NHL rumor mill.

The Ryan O’Reilly trade-rumor mill is starting to crank up. (Photo via NHL Images)


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington took note of remarks Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made during his season-ending press conference about possibly changing the core of the roster. “It sure sounds like Ryan O’Reilly and/or Rasmus Ristolainen better keep a good real estate agent’s name handy,” said Harrington.

WGR 550: Joe DiBiase cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger discussing the possibility of an O’Reilly trade during separate radio appearances on Friday. Acknowledging the center’s comments earlier in the week over how he lost his passion for the game at times this week, McKenzie said O’Reilly “was one of the guys that I think they were thinking of trading anyways.”

If the Sabres put O’Reilly on the trade block this summer, McKenzie believes he would a “godsend” for the Montreal Canadiens, who lack a skilled first-line center. Botterill, however, could be reluctant to move O’Reilly within the division. He might  alsohave to absorb part of his $7.5-million annual cap hit.  Dreger, meanwhile, believes it would take “an absolute sweetheart deal” for the Sabres to consider moving O’Reilly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving O’Reilly or Ristolainen would be a significant shakeup of the Sabres’ core. It’s something Botterill could explore leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft. Either guy will attract considerably attention in this summer’s trade market. Cap Friendly indicates both players lack no-trade protection.  

Botterill’s asking price for O’Reilly or Ristolainen could become a sticking point. He’ll want a great return to compensate for the pittance he got for Evander Kane at the trade deadline

In O’Reilly case, his $7.5-million cap hit could scare off some suitors if the Sabres prove unwilling to pick up a chunk of it to facilitate a deal. Botterill might be wary of moving O’Reilly to a division rival. However, if that sweetheart offer Dreger referred to comes from a rival like the Canadiens he could still give it serious consideration.


TSN: Former NHL winger and current KHL star Ilya Kovalchuk told Russia’s Sports.Ru he has no agreement in place to join an NHL team and has yet to even speak with an NHL franchise. Earlier this week there was a report claiming Kovalchuk had reach a deal with the New York Rangers. While he’s said he intends to return to the NHL for next season, he’s ineligible to negotiate with any team until April 15, his 35th birthday. He can reach an agreement in principle on a contract but it won’t become official until July 1. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger’s appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 yesterday discussing Kovalchuk’s contract situation. While noting he cannot begin talks with any team until April 15, he believes the winger will sign with the Rangers, as he knows they have interest in him. Dreger feels it could be a one- or two-year deal. While he hasn’t heard of any team other than the Rangers with interest in Kovalchuk, he feels that could change leading up to the start of free agency on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the Rangers are the favorite and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kovalchuk makes them his primary free-agent target. We probably haven’t heard the last of the “Kovalchuk could join the Rangers” speculation. 



  1. Can’t see anyone giving up assets for O’Reilly before Tavares situation gets resolved. Rangers where rumored to be in on Kovy last summer, but I think they’ll be in on JT if isles don’t sign him. So yeah, they might start talking to Kovulchuk next week, but until July 1st there’s no guarentee anything gets done. Rangers have a bunch of rfa’s to sign, and who knows what deals Gorton makes between now and draft.. Not sure they’ll have 5-6 mil to offer Kovy, even if it’s only 1-2 years.

  2. I’m a Sabres fan and I would trade ROR if I could get a top 6 pick in this draft. So buffalo could have Zadina, Walhstrom, Russian sniper or Dahlin if they will top pick. Montreal needs a center and Islander might if John T doesn’t sign

    • I don’t think anyone is trading a pick until after lottery…. and nobody is giving up a top 3 pick for O’Reilly. Seriously doubt they move Ristolenin

      • Buffalo should already get a top 3 pick. Not sure Eichel will be too happy if they keep trading away players

  3. Why would you trade Ristolainen when he is your best defence man who logs a ton of minutes in a weak position and I would consider your MVP- dumb . O’Reilly is a completly different matter and trade him for a package of picks and prospects

    • All matters what the returns are…both these players have plenty of term left so a team isn’t getting a possible one and done player. I don’t trade Risto even if the Sabres win the lottery and take Dahlin unless I get another D in return. Tim Murray did this McNabb,Myers,Zadorov and Pysyk and what have the Sabres to show…glass Bogosian who has played in around 50% of the games since he has been with the Sabres BTW 3 of the 4 are in the playoffs and the 4th just missed.Don’t think GMJB is as trade happy as Murray was just to make trades. Personally I think O’Reilly is a goner…no prediction on the return but as I said he has plenty of term so there’s no pressure on JB to trade him but if he does the deal happens before the season starts so a team can figure in whatever ROR’s cap hit will be.
      Today’s paper brought up about trading Reinhart which would be stupid as he had a great 2nd half and maybe the kid has turned the corner and start living up to being chosen 2nd overall. I think it can now be officially said Murray got fleeced in the trade with

      • Kane played essentially 3 seasons in Buf scoring 68 goals, no player scored more for Buf over that time frame. Bogosian was the other player coming from Win. Win got Myers, Stafford, salary dump, Armia, Lemieux & a conditional 1st that turned out to be late 25th.

        Buf lost that trade the minute it was made, never made sense to me but they certainly didn’t get fleeced. Moving Myers out & taking back Bogosian never made sense to me as part of that deal.

    • Maybe they can’t fit his name on the jerseys they try to sell :)? Would be odd to trade their only NHL level D-man… I guess after way things went w/ Myers who scored a real nice goal the other night… Not to mention Ehrhoff they just want to move the guy before they have to pay him over next decade or so :). Buffalo is playing to win, the draft lottery that is ;). Maybe they figure they will win it or NHL has already rigged it for them to get their stud D-man :)? I can see them flipping ROR since he is a costly 7.5M on cap w/ Eichel kicking in 10M its nearly 18M for 2 players on a last place team. That is still cheaper than Chicago who has 21M for 2 of em :).

  4. Couldn’t resist … but I had a hunch things would stutter to a halt today (5 posts so far – none from admitted Leafs and Pens fans – and it’s 3:30 pm EDT) after the Leafs looked very ordinary in game 1, and the knee-jerk reactions (see below) following game 1 in the Philly-Pens series were doused with a cold splash of reality:

    “Maybe let Matt Murray lose a playoff series once in his career before you lump him in with a bum like Elliot? Just a thought.”

    “Matt Murray has gone 206 straight minutes of playoff hockey since the last time he gave up a goal. Yeah he sure does suck. Yeah he struggled, mostly due to injuries, this season at times but he’s only 23 and right now there is no one better in big games.”

    “Phone call for Mr Parent. Mr Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall calling on line 2. Pylon > Brian Elliott. Brutal.”

    “Defense was wayy worse than the goaltending. Hasek wasn’t winning that game. Not that Elliott deserved first start of the game or anything.”

    • What did your post have to do with Toronto fans? Anyway, they played a bad game, got running around. Hopefully they can pull it together tonight. As a Toronto fan I’d rather them lose like that than lose a one goal game that was really close, this should hopefully motivate them but we will see. If they could have scored on one of their power plays in the beginning of the game that may have turned out differently but they looked intimidated and did not play well in the third Especially.

      • I think its worse to lose like Kings in 2OT to Knights… When NHL already rigged that game by suspending DRew they had to drag that out ;). I remember I kept thinking WTF is Kyle Clifford doing out there :). Sure enough he has his shot blocked which leads to GWG. Odd LaDue only King to score a goal so they barely use or play him? Kings HC like the previous still can’t put lines together… I’d rather have Iafallo in my lineup than Clifford who since he has come back Kings fell from 1st place. Pearson should be playing w/ Toffoli who didn’t even play 20 minutes ;)? Those two have chemistry even if want to not have them play w/ Carter. Kempe should have played LW on that 1st line a bit he has offensive ability w/ about as many goals as anybody else who played LW there combined ;). Kings lines just look mostly clueless… VEgas Tatar barely played so that is a bust of a trade admitted :). Rather lose 7-0 than how Wild lost to JEts those two games in a row haha ;). Jets will have all of Canada behind them who just need to get past Nashville to be favorites to win/make Cup :).

      • Lol you should be real happy they did not lose by 1 goal again 7 3 lol should be real mad next 2 games maybe next year

    • He’s back!

    • Hi Georgie! Wanna a balloon 🎈? Matt ‘proltby t-1000’ Murray will be just fine.

    • Matt Murray just has to play long enough to make HOF since already has the Cups :). That 1 goal Flyers scored nobody was going to stop w/ the wide open net unless Dustin Brown was shooting :). I sorta expect Toronto to get swept especially after their player is suspended for 3 games… I really hated Babcock he even had PK Subban riding pine at Olympics playing a boring worthless style they claim was hockey… It made the Florida Panthers clutch/grab Cup run look exciting ;). Too many teams in East are like Jekyll and Hide… Devils beat Tampa like 3/3 but still not beat them once in playoffs losing their final game on purpose to play them or Boston… I sorta think it was scummy of them to not play Hall or others so hopefully MacKinnen or Kopitar win MVP… Figure guy scores GWG to get his team into playoffs he should win. If Colorado had Erik Johnson they would maybe have upset Nashville now JEts will have to in 2nd round w/ that 32 win or whatever streak at home last losing to Nashville ;).

    • George, I thought you stopped caring about hockey. Nice to have you back.

      • What would the Man in the Yellow Hat do without Curious George :). Giving up HOckey is like when people make those New Years Resolutions they never keep :). Least this year there isn’t any team really would hate to see win a Cup. For me Flyers or Ducks would be the worst case scenario from a personal level fora SCF :).

    • So it was Murray’s fault they lost the game? The guy has won 8 playoff series in a row. Maybe he’s entitled to a bad game just like Elliot is entitled to a good game here and there. How are the Sens doing in their series George? Maybe you should live up to your own words and stay gone?

  5. I don’t see why Buffalo would trade their only legit NHL D-man unless count often injured Bogosian :)… Granted he has a major massive shot when he is able to play :). There like 10 teams who might want ROR… HE would fit in well for Sharks w/ 500K cheaper salary compared to what they gave Jumbo JOe for 1 year ;). Vegas would be another nice spot for him since Tatar sucks who they gave up 3 picks for… YOu see that double OT game, Tatar barely played more than Kyle Clifford for a reason :). Sharks had nobody who could take faceoff on their 2nd PP unit… So would be a nice fit to have another guy that can play center ;). Not sure how he would get along w/ Kane if he stayed :). He seemed to have nice chemistry playing w/ #8 there even Donskoi I think was on that line.

    If Buffalo trades their only decent NHL level D-man w/ upside… They better get a nice return or its clear they don’t want to win or can’t :). Sharks might have a hard time getting ROR from them after how they were fleeced for Kane ;).

    It must be a lock Ilya has signed w/ Rangers to deny stuff to avoid any tampering claims ;). Dallas Stars might be able to steal him away after ditching their crappy coach or he retired ;). Funny Buffalo will miss playoffs for like 8th time… They probably will run into 10 years or more… While Stars I think only missed it 10 times in their history :). They have like 8 division titles to I think Buffalo have something like 6 going back to 70’s ;).

  6. St Louis is looking for a center. How about a trade of Goalie Jake Allen, Center Patrik Berglund, and a mid level prospect for O Rielly ?