The trade deadline is long past, but that doesn’t mean players can’t still be moved, at least in the AHL.
O’Reilly remains the property of the Buffalo Sabres, but the reportedly-unhappy veteran will now get a chance to compete for an AHL playoff spot with Toronto, who sit in third place in the division.
He might get a chance to start that journey tonight, as Rochester hosts...you guessed it, the Toronto Marlies.
So what’s the point of all this if the Sabres (and Amerks) don’t get anything in return for losing one of their more productive players?
First, it gets rid of a player who, by many reports, has been frustrated this season in Rochester, what with the Amerks currently sitting in last place. I can’t speak for how deeply O’Reilly’s feelings were impacting the rest of the players, but as Tim Murray famously said at the beginning of the rebuild, “We want players who want to be here.”
From an organizational standpoint, it’s also another indication to players around the league that the Sabres will try and do right by their own if possible. Reports were that Tim Murray had at least one offer for free agent-to-be Brian Gionta, but Gionta asked Murray not to trade him, and here he is, still in Buffalo.
These kinds of things are small, but they speak to potential free agents and their, uh, agents, that the Sabres aren’t going to screw you over just because it’s what’s best for business. Buffalo will takes care of their own (if you ignore the on-ice product at the moment.)
The second thing this does is free up a playing spot for another young player, similar to how the Sabres might call up someone like Alex Nylander for a few games at the end of the year. The lucky winner in this case is Rochester native Matthew Lane, who was called up from Elmira.
Finally, this likely spells the end of (Cal) O’Reilly’s time in Buffalo. With his contract up at the end of the year, I can’t imagine he’d want to come back, and thus the Bro’Reilly era in Buffalo is all but over.