Latest Sabres and Rangers Speculation – April 14, 2018
Will the Sabres trade Ryan O’Reilly? Will Ilya Kovalchuk sign with the Rangers? The latest in your NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE SABRES TRADE O’REILLY?
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.
LATEST “KOVALCHUK TO THE RANGERS” SPECULATION
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.