With word emerging last week the Colorado Avalanche are shopping Ryan O'Reilly, speculation is growing over which clubs have interest in the 22-year-old.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reported Friday the Rangers had “checked in” on O'Reilly, but his contract demands make them “very unlikely” to pursue him.
O'Reilly, coming off an entry level contract and lacking arbitration rights, reportedly seeks a five-year deal. Brooks explained the Rangers rule with similar players is to offer up two-year “bridge deals.”
With Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin due to be re-signed this summer and the salary cap declining to $64.3 million for next season, the Blueshirts must ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign the trio.
On Saturday, CBC's Elliotte Friedman claimed the Avalanche were willing to offer up O'Reilly and one of their defensemen to the Rangers in exchange for a package including Michael Del Zotto. As the Avs asking price increased, however, the Rangers backed off.
Friedman's colleague Glenn Healy reported the Avalanche were seeking “a king's ransom” for the center, consisting of two players, a prospect and a high draft pick.
The Rangers might be out of the O'Reilly sweepstakes for now, but they could keep tabs on the situation in case the Avalanche lower their demands.
The Denver Post's Adrian Dater weighed in Saturday via Twitter, stating the Avalanche didn't want another offensive center for O'Reilly, but an offensive defenseman or a proven forward plus a pick.
TSN's Darren Dreger claimed the Toronto Maple Leafs “would love to get their hands” on O'Reilly, but Dater doesn't believe the Avs have interest in Tyler Bozak.
The Avalanche could be seeking different returns from different teams, which would account for the conflicting reports over their asking price.
Rumors could soon link several struggling teams to O'Reilly.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ declining offense (currently 24th in goals-per-game) suggests it's only a matter of time until they make an enquiry, if they haven't already. Their depth in young forwards would interest the Avalanche.
Though the Avalanche's focus is on Eastern Conference clubs, several Western clubs will be making calls.
The St. Louis Blues have a recent trade history with the Avalanche, while the LA Kings are struggling to regain their championship form. There's talk the San Jose Sharks might shake things up if they don't soon snap out of their free-fall and the Nashville Predators anaemic offense could use a boost.
Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune observed Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero attending Thursday's Colorado Avalanche-Minnesota Wild game.
Russo noted the Penguins were playing the Winnipeg Jets the following night, which might explain why Shero was in town to watch a Wild game. He also pointed out Shero is believed to be seeking a top-six forward and could have been scouting Wild wingers Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Devin Setoguchi.
Bouchard and Setoguchi are struggling this season, with the latter mentioned in recent trade rumors. Bouchard is eligible for UFA status this summer, while Setoguchi has one year at a cap hit of $3 million left on his contract, which the Wild could be trying to shed.
Bouchard might be more enticing as a playoff rental player, but has a lengthy history of concussions. Setoguchi is younger and has a shorter injury history.
It's also possible Shero was scouting the Avalanche, which could link him to Ryan O'Reilly. With centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin already on the Penguins roster, they appear to have no room for O'Reilly.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).