Ryan O'Reilly May Head Back West For The Upcoming Season

Published May 28, 2023 at 7:40 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs' best chance of winning a Stanley Cup this season has likely been shattered at the hands of the Florida Panthers. This disappointing outcome may lead to significant, potentially drastic, changes within the team.

Who's Leaving Leafs Nation?

In addition to the search for a new General Manager, numerous rumors have begun to circulate regarding the future of head coach Sheldon Keefe, the core four players, and the numerous unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and restricted free agents (RFAs) who require new contracts.

Fans of the Maple Leafs are particularly curious about the future of player Ryan O'Reilly. Acquired in a trade from St. Louis ahead of the deadline, O'Reilly swiftly won the affection of the Leafs' fanbase with his determined and tenacious style of hockey. This attitude was instrumental in his winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and helping his former team secure a Stanley Cup in 2019.


However, during the Leafs' season-ending press conference, O'Reilly was noncommittal about his future with the team, likely not wanting to reveal his intentions ahead of contract negotiations. The pending UFA, whose previous contract had an average annual value (AAV) of $7.5 million, has yet to confirm if he's willing to accept a pay cut to stay with the Leafs. Therefore, his name will likely continue to circulate in the rumor mill until he decides to sign a contract before free agency opens on July 1st.

According to Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,

One team potentially interested in O'Reilly is his former club, the Colorado Avalanche. Given the Avalanche's uncertainty surrounding Valeri Nichushkin and the injured Gabriel Landeskog, it's plausible they may attempt to recruit a player familiar to the organization. The Avalanche has funds available for spending and could certainly benefit from a veteran centerman.

Proteau suggests, "[The Avalanche] needs an infusion of size and skill, and they have enough cap space to make a splash either in free agency or on the trade front. Maybe that means Colorado brings back veteran Ryan O'Reilly for his second tour of duty with the organization. O'Reilly isn't a game-breaker, but he brings the type of grit and experience teams look for as they seek to go on a deep playoff run. He likely won't break the bank with a new salary in the $4- to 5-million range per year."

As we are a little over a month away from free agency, it's expected that the rumor mill will pick up speed, especially once the Leafs have appointed a new GM.

Credit:MapleLeafs Insider
May 28   |   321 answers
Ryan O'Reilly May Head Back West For The Upcoming Season

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