According to Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman, the Montreal Canadiens have been linked to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly.
Friedman mentioned the Canadiens in his latest article, published ahead of the free agency window which opens on July 1 at noon ET.
However, the Habs are not the only team that has been linked to the center.
“If not Toronto, Ryan O’Reilly’s been linked to Detroit, Montreal, Nashville and Vancouver,” said Friedman.
Friedman also mentioned there are possibly more teams in the mix, which means Montreal Canadiens fans that may be interested in his services probably shouldn’t hold their breath. As it stands, the Canadiens have very little available cap space, and they also lack roster spots.
“There’s probably more,” said Friedman. “However, some sources warned not to discount his desire for St. Louis until he actually signs somewhere else.”
O’Reilly, 32, spent the 2022-23 season with two teams. He started the year with the St-Louis Blues, but was traded to the Maple Leafs in February, being the centrepiece of a three-way trade which also included the Minnesota Wild.
The Blues acquired a first-round pick, as well prospect Mikhail Abramov and AHLer Adam Gaudette in exchange for O’Reilly. The Wild were given a fourth-round pick to absorb part of O’Reilly’s salary cap hit.
O’Reilly is known as a stalwart defensive centre that can also serve as a secondary source of offence. He scored 12 goals and seven assists in 40 games for the Blues last year, as well as four goals and seven assists in 13 games for the Leafs. He went on to score three goals and six assists in 13 playoff games.
O’Reilly’s previous contract was a seven-year deal that paid him $7.5 million per season, but given his recent downtick in production and underlying numbers, we shouldn’t expect the feisty forward to command nearly as much on the free-agent market.