With the loss of John Tavares Maple Leafs, the New York Islanders need a second line center. And Ryan O’Reilly might just do the trick.
Now that John Tavares has gone back home to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Islanders have a big hole to fill at center. Mathew Barzal can immediately take the 1-C position. But behind him in the depth chart are a number of not so good options.
After Barzal comes Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas as bonafide centers. Neither should be entrusted with second-line responsibilities. At best Cizikas is a third line center, while Brock Nelson should in no way be playing down the middle.
Looking at free agency there’s also very little at the center position. To address the issue the Islanders are going to have to explore the trade market. Which is why the Islanders are barking up Buffalo’s tree for Ryan O’Reilly.
He’s Pretty Good
Let’s get one thing clear. Ryan O’Reilly isn’t John Tavares. Don’t try to compare O’Reilly to Tavares, you’re just going to make yourself sadder. If that’s even possible. A good comparable for Ryan O’Reilly is Frans Nielsen in his prime.
O’Reilly has a solid 200-foot game. He wins faceoffs. He’s won 55.1 percent of them in his career and 60 percent last season.
Since 2013-14 O’Reilly hasn’t scored less than 55 points in a season. He scores on 5on5, he scores on the power play, heck he even scores short-handed with four short-handed goals last season.
He’s routinely a top draw for the Selke trophy, finishing in the top 12 in votes four out of the last five years.
He has all the qualities Frans Nielsen had when he left to seek greener pastures in Detroit. A link to the New York Islanders makes sense at this point.
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Ryan O’Reilly would make a perfect second line center for the New York Islanders behind Mathew Barzal. And thanks to that $7.5 million he due to be paid by end of day July 1st, the Islanders might be able to get him on the cheap.