2015 Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #2 Ryan O'Reilly
O'Reilly gives the Sabres a first line center with 2-way upside while Jack Eichel is in training.
Weight: 210 lbs.
2014-15 team: Colorado
Acquired: Traded along with Jamie McGinn for Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher and a second-round pick
Last year's ranking: N/A
Ryan O'Reilly Sabres rumors have been in the news for years now. It never seemed more unlikely than when the Sabres traded their second first round pick to Ottawa for Robin Lehner. It turns out all they needed was their second and three well thought of players. The Sabres may have given up a big package to get him, but like the Evander Kane trade, Buffalo clearly ended up with the best player in the trade.
O'Reilly's numbers may not jump off the page, but his role is much more than just scoring. He's always been a pass first player, only netting 20+ goals once in his career. He uses his size to work in the corners, and once he gets the puck he'll be one of the best passers on the Sabres. He will also be the Sabres best two-way forward, as his defensive numbers in Colorado were very good. Matthew Coller said in that piece that O'Reilly is the best two-way player the Sabres have had since Chris Drury.
As I mentioned in the Kane piece, the traditional first line for the Sabres going into the season appears to be Kane-O'Reilly-Ennis. O'Reilly will likely be the first line center for the season, allowing Jack Eichel to adjust to the NHL. At some point the two will likely swap spots, or O'Reilly could possibly move to the wing depending on the progress of Sam Reinhart. He'll be in the organization for the long-term after signing a seven-year extension with the team this off-season.
O'Reilly gives them flexibility and an immediate talent on a team that is very young. The Sabres have a one-two punch that an NHL team needs to win the Stanley Cup. That's even before mentioning the numerous other talents the Sabres have in the organization. If the Sabres just added O'Reilly this off-season it would have been a successful summer. Add Eichel too, and the debut of Kane? Now, that's just fun to think about.