In an almost unprecedented example of behind the scenes access, the Arizona Coyotes have released a 16-minute video that follows GM John Chayka as he prepared for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The feature shows clips from scouting discussions and prospect interviews, eventually concluding with the Coyotes first-round selection of Barrett Hayton with the fifth-overall pick. In one particularly interesting scene though, Chayka is in his office speaking with Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill about a trade for forward Hudson Fasching, which would eventually be announced on June 14th.
Before Chayka hangs up, he mentions to Botterill some ongoing talks he had been having with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and mentions their previous discussions about Ryan O’Reilly. We can only hear Chayka’s side of the conversation, but it is quite an interesting reveal.
We’re working with Jim [Rutherford], Pittsburgh on a few things. I guess as it relates to our O’Reilly discussions, is there anything there that would entice you, that you would consider to be an important piece that you’d like as part of that deal?
Whatever Botterill responded with wasn’t a good fit for Chayka, who responded that it would be “tough to do” while they still had things brewing with Pittsburgh. O’Reilly would end up being traded to the St. Louis Blues on July 1st just before his signing bonus was due to be paid, while the Coyotes failed to make a trade with the Penguins at all. Interestingly, there were reports that the Penguins had been interested in Max Domi, who was traded to the Montreal Canadiens just a day after the Fasching deal was completed.
While there are likely plenty of other examples of teams discussing O’Reilly before he was eventually traded, the fact that the Coyotes were interested at least in passing shows how the team is ready to start competing for the playoffs instead of stockpiling young assets. Arizona really took a step forward in the second half of last season, and should be an improved team that could jump up in the standings this season. While they didn’t acquire an excellent two-way center like O’Reilly, they did add Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Grabner and Vinnie Hinostroza to a forward group that already had solid talents like Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan.