Friday, June 26, 2015

Ryan O'Reilly Swatch Card

Is the drama over? Probably. He'll still have to sign a contract with the Buffalo Sabres, but Ryan O'Reilly will no longer have contentious negotiations with the Colorado Avalanche now that he was traded.

Indeed, the Avs have sent O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn to Buffalo for a second-round pick, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, and J.T. Compher, whom I know nothing about. Zadorov is a highly-rated defensive prospect and Grigorenko was a star in Juniors under Patrick Roy with the Québec Remparts; having them united could help him on his path to becoming an NHL star instead of another talent wasted from a failed Buffalo regime.

But the key player remains O'Reilly, the Lady Byng Trophy winner in 2013-14 who will probably win a Selke in his career. He's a terrific hockey player, but whenever he either led the Avs in points or was their highest-paid player, they failed to make the playoffs.

Unlike Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks who will be earning their market value starting next season, forcing the Hawks to trade a couple of players to adjust to the cap while remaining contenders, O'Reilly's greed was always in the optic of himself, to be the highest-paid, the top earner right away, not just hindering the team's cap management issues but the hierarchy in the dressing room - letting future players know he's the king in there, but also his current teammates as well, even those putting up more points than him.

I understand wanting your efforts to not go unrecognized, and wanting to play an active role in your team's success; at some point, though, your ego might become detrimental to the group. That works for the cap situation, but also if/when the Sabres make the playoffs and he's forced to play with an injury to contribute, and he'll have to decided if he's worth more to the team at 50% of his capacities than someone else - a teammate - at 100% of theirs. He wanted to be the Avs' captain so bad, but true leadership is about putting the team's benefit first, and letting everyone enjoy their time in the limelight.

Don't get me wrong: he's a terrific hockey player. But I wouldn't want him on my team at this point of his maturing process.

Here he is rocking the Avs' alternate uniform, featuring a black, game-worn material swatch, from Panini's 2013-14 Titanium set, card #GG-ROR of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set:
Here's hoping he matures into a dependable leader in Buffalo and doesn't hit a brick (Tim Hortons) brick wall.

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