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Botterill on O'Reilly: 'The interest in Ryan is not surprising at all'

Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill says he's comfortable enough with the way the NHL Draft is set up for his team from the amateur side that he's spending most of his energy these days on the pro side of things.

Translation: The phone isn't leaving his ear much with trade talk. And much of it is centered around Ryan O'Reilly.

The Sabres aren't shopping O'Reilly or anybody else, for that matter. When you're a 62-point team, you're willing to do a lot of listening.

"To be honest, the interest in Ryan is not surprising at all. Ryan is one of our better players," Botterill told The Buffalo News. "He had another successful World Championship, even though Team Canada was disappointed that they didn't come away with the medal. But he played a very big role for Canada again.

"Look, when I'm having discussions with other teams or other teams call me, they're not looking for some of our players who are struggling. They're looking to improve with our talented players."

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The interest in O'Reilly, of course, comes mostly from the chatter that started on locker cleanout day when he said all the losing the last three years has chipped away at his passion for the game.

O'Reilly is in Las Vegas for Wednesday night's NHL Awards Show. He's one of three finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who combines ability with gentlemanly and sportsmanlike conduct. O' Reilly won it in 2014 while with Colorado. The only time it has been won by a Sabre was by Gilbert Perreault in 1973.

O'Reilly had 24 goals and 61 points this season, three shy of his career high. He also won 60 percent of his faceoffs and won 1,273 draws, an NHL record since the statistic began being logged in the late 1990s.

"Just look at the roles Ryan has played the last couple years, all the faceoffs he took and the responsiblity he had," Botterill said. "We know he's a player with a very good reputation around the league."

Botterill said he expects plenty of trade activity once teams arrive in Dallas, particularly when they hit the draft floor in American Airlines Arena late Friday afternoon.

"It's always a busy week with teams communicating," he said. "It's hard to know if trades will get completed here, but we find they at least get set in motion. We saw last year with the trade for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville, it was not at the draft but it was set up at the draft. That's often how they worked."

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