Report: Ryan O'Reilly could head back to Western Conference

His time with the Maple Leafs could prove to be brief.



Now-former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas elected to go all-in at last month's NHL Trade Deadline, bringing aboard former 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O'Reilly from the St. Louis Blues (along with Noel Acciari) while also bringing back former 2008 1st round Draft selection Luke Schenn. 

O'Reilly proved to be extremely valuable in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Leafs in their Round 1 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, racking up six points (none bigger than his late game-tying goal in Game 3) while also performing well in the face-off circle. However, Toronto's season came to an unceremonious end at the hands of the Florida Panthers, who are on their way to their 1st Eastern Conference Final since 1996.

The offseason is officially underway, and the Leafs have already made a major move in terminating Dubas. And it's a guarantee that the team that hits the ice in the fall will not look the same as the team who skated off the Scotiabank Arena in defeat against Florida earlier this month. 

O'Reilly is a pending unrestricted free agent, and could very realistically be moving on to a different organization this summer. He admitted as much, saying that there were "decisions" to make on the part of himself and the team. Could his first NHL squad come calling? 

As you may know, the Colorado Avalanche are going to indefinitely be without the services of forward Valeri Nichushkin stemming from the bizarre incident involving him and a highly intoxicated woman at a Seattle hotel during the postseason. Additionally, captain Gabriel Landeskog won't be suiting up next season, and his career could very well be over. 

O'Reilly could be a solid option to plug into their lineup, according to Adam Proteau of The Hockey News: 

"The Colorado Avalanche, O'Reilly's former club, may be interested in reacquiring him. The Avalanche's uncertainties surrounding Valeri Nichushkin and the injured Gabriel Landeskog could potentially lead them to recruit a familiar player. With available funds for spending and a need for a veteran centerman, the Avalanche could benefit from O'Reilly's size, skill, grit, and experience."

O'Reilly's cap hit for this season was $7.25 million, and he likely won't be commanding anything near that mark in his next deal.