Insider Trading: O'Reilly officially in play; Sens open to trades
The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss how Ryan O'Reilly is officially in play ahead of the trade deadline, how Max Domi is a trade target for cap-crunched teams, why the Sens could be open to buying and selling, and much more.
Gino Reda: They are the Insiders – Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. Gentlemen, Ryan O’Reilly was drawing a lot of attention before he broke his foot but the word is he should be ready to play again before the trade deadline. So is the talking beginning to heat up again, Darren?
Darren Dreger: Yes I would say that’s fair, Gino. The Ryan O’Reilly speculation started prior to the beginning of the NHL regular season and it has continued, but the St. Louis Blues have reached the point in the regular season that they genuinely want to gauge the interest around the NHL in the star pending-unrestricted free agent forward. We know he’s hurt, he’s going to a be out for a while and it’s still early because the Blues, like all clubs who are looking at the playoff picture, don’t know if they are willing to go all in yet. But the ask for Ryan O’Reilly is going to be similar what normally would be for a player of similar stature – you’re talking about draft picks, you’re talking about a prospect, the draft pick could be determined by the quality of the prospect so, it is again still early, but Ryan O’Reilly is officially in play.
Pierre LeBrun: Timo Meier, unlike Ryan O’Reilly, is not you’re prototypical rental player because he’s not an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, he’s technically a restricted free agent, but also has a $10 million qualifying offer and that has some teams that really like him concerned about how they can navigate that. It’s why some teams are hoping that if the Sharks give permission to Meier’s camp – led by agent Claude Lemieux – to speak directly to them to see if that could be the type of a trade where the extension is a part of it but that has not happened yet, Lemieux has not gotten that permission. It’s also not out of the question that the Sharks try to sign him yet but they have not put an offer on the table to Timo Meier since the start of the season so it doesn’t look too likely there. Obviously, the contenders would make sense, Toronto would make sense, Carolina has some interest because again they see Meier as a long-term fit, but also a team like the Buffalo Sabres has reached out to San Jose, this could be the type of player that has interest from teams that are not even sitting in a playoff spot so it’s kind of a unique case here with Timo Meier.
Chris Johnston: With so much cap congestion around the league as we get close to this deadline, I think a lot of teams will be looking for value and where they might find it is looking at the Chicago Blackhawks and Max Domi. This season he has played centre showing some versatility moving over from the wing as he’s put up pretty good numbers and maybe the most important number of them all is three million because that’s Max Domi’s cap hit for this year on an expiring contract, much cheaper than a lot of the other players that teams might be looking to plug in top-6 or maybe a top-9 forward role. It’s gone so well in Chicago I think Max Domi would be happy to stay there and think about a contract extension but with where the Blackhawks are they have to gauge the market and will likely move on from him.
Gino Reda: Given the fact the Senators aren’t really in the hunt for a playoff spot, it would be easy to see them as sellers but could we see them shopping as well, Darren?
Darren Dreger: Yes, they could do a little bit of both Gino. I know that Pierre Dorion – the GM for the Sens – is out west primarily for the CHL prospects game Wednesday in Langley but on the eve of the prospects game Dorion is going to take in the Hawks and the Vancouver Canucks game. He’s still looking for a defenceman, that in a perfect world would be a defenceman with some term, but he’s interested in unrestricted free agents. Maybe there’s an opportunity to sign that player, or if he gets them early enough maybe trade that player leading up to the March 3rd trade deadline but Dorion is also exploring all of the Ottawa Senators unrestricted free agents including goaltender Cam Talbot.
Gino Reda: It’s always interesting to talk about buyers and sellers at the trade deadline but sometimes buyers can find themselves a little shy in the currency department. Is that the case in Tampa, Pierre?
Pierre LeBrun: Yes it is, although the Tampa Bay Lightning have a way to try to lower expectations out of the trade deadline and then [the] last three years going out and getting players. But speaking with Julien BriseBois for a piece I have coming out tomorrow on The Athletic, he doesn’t have a first-round pick this year, he doesn’t have a first-round pick next year, he doesn’t have a second-round pick and he says he doesn’t have the assets to make a big splash, so he’s looking more for a sort of Nick Paul type acquisition. Remember, he got Paul last year at the deadline but one thing I asked him: “the Leafs and the Bruins, what if they make a big splash?”, but he said he’s not going to let that affect their line of thinking before the deadline.
Gino Reda: Speaking of the Leafs, while they are still shopping they are also trying to take care of some internal matters, Chris?
Chris Johnston: Yes, just a little something to keep an eye on, they do have some interest in extending Conor Timmins to a contract, he’s a pending restricted free agent, acquired in November from Arizona, been a nice fit since he came over to Toronto and been quite productive in his time so we’ll see if they can get something done there.
Gino Reda: All right, the Leafs are looking to buy and are looking to take care of things within their organization. A lot going on between now and the deadline. They are the insiders – Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.