Over the last few days to a week we’ve begun to hear whispers that have now become a little bit louder of the Sabres acquiring the third overall pick from the Montreal Canadiens as part of a package for Ryan O’Reilly.
Before I go any further, I should say this scenario is still pretty unlikely, but...
Dreger - it sounds insane to me that the Canadiens would give up the #3 pick possibly to acquire O'Reilly. Marc Bergevin has to come out of this offseason with a lot more than just Max Domi. Don't know if he can survive another brutal season. #Sabres— WGR 550 (@WGR550) June 20, 2018
So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?!
Why it Could Happen
I’m in the same spot TSN’s Darren Dreger is with this. The idea of the Canadiens trading the third overall pick as part of a package for O’Reilly does sound insane. Does selecting Jesperi Kotkaniemi help the Habs right away? No. However, two or three years down the road it does.
That’s where we get into the mess of how this actually is a possibility, while very slim, still possible.
The Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has backed himself into a nice corner here. Of course, you shouldn’t throw rocks when you live in the glass house of the Sabres, but it’s the reality of the situation.
Bergevin has made a few questionable trades dating back to PK Subban for Shea Weber and recently Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi. They acquired Jonathan Drouin last summer for their top defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev. So desperate for anything at center they forced Drouin into a position he’s not familiar with and it didn’t go well.
The Montreal general manager doubled down on his mistakes by handing a huge eight-year contract to goaltender Carey Price that carries a $10.5 million cap hit per season. Price turns 31-years-old in August.
They’re a point of no return in Bergevin’s plan as time is not on his side. He’s on thin ice and needs to get a top-six center on the Canadiens no matter what it takes. That’s where the third overall pick comes into play.
Bergevin is so desperate for a center and with his job on the line, he may sacrifice the future to get results now.
If a trade of this magnitude does end up happening the Sabres will likely need to kick in more on their end besides just O’Reilly. They’ll likely have to include 32 overall and a decent prospect.
Buffalo was already in a great spot on day one to select the best player in the draft. The potential to have the opportunity to select the third best player in the draft seems too good to be true.
They can fill two major needs in one night. Grabbing Dahlin at first overall fills the hole on defense and picking winger Filip Zadina at three would fill the lack of depth on the wing.
The Czech-born winger is one of the better scorers in this draft class and could be a great duo with Sabres star center Jack Eichel.
Zadina isn’t the only option they can consider at third overall. Botterill can double down on defense and select University of Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes. Forwards Oliver Wahlstrom and Brady Tkachuk could be in the conversation too.
Either way the thought of the Sabres walking out of Friday with two of the top three players in the draft is a dream. This rumor adds some spice to a weekend that already had the potential to be exciting.