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WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Avalanche players don't usually look beyond the
upcoming game. But with Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn returning to Denver on Tuesday, dinner plans and discussions are imminent.
"I'm sure I'll see them. I'm sure we'll grab some dinner Tuesday and talk about the season," Avs center Nathan MacKinnon said Monday before Colorado's 2-1 win at Winnipeg.
MacKinnon and defenseman Tyson Barrie, among others, were close friends with O'Reilly and McGinn, who were traded to Buffalo on June 26 for the Sabres' Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko, Michigan captain J.T. Compher and a second-round draft pick.
O'Reilly, McGinn and Zadorov are pegged to play in Wednesday's game between the Avs and Sabres at the Pepsi Center in the trade's first live head-to-head comparison. Grigorenko has been a healthy scratch the past three games.
O'Reilly — a.k.a. Factor — is Buffalo's 2016 NHL All-Star and McGinn is having an excellent bounce-back year after missing most of last season with a serious back injury.
"They're good guys and I'm happy for them. They're doing well," Barrie said. "Me and Factor and Ginner were pretty tight. Great teammates, great guys and it will be fun to faceoff against them for the first time. I'm looking forward to it."
O'Reilly, who is Buffalo's No. 1 center, leads the team with 17 goals and 39 points. McGinn, who often plays left wing on O'Reilly's line, is fourth in scoring with 21 points (10 goals).
In playing all 46 games for the Sabres, O'Reilly has already matched the 17 goals he scored with the Avs in 82 games last season.
"He's playing unbelievable for them," MacKinnon said of O'Reilly. "They're not doing very well but if he wasn't playing as good as was they'd be worse off. Same with Ginner. He's been playing awesome too. I'm happy for those guys."
MacKinnon, 20, is living in O'Reilly's Denver-area condo.
Avs forward Cody McLeod was also close with fellow Irish-blooded O'Reilly and McGinn. But not too close to wish them well Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.
"I haven't talked to them — nothing as of right now," McLeod said in Winnipeg. "They were good friends and stuff like that and we're on opposite sides now. That's the plan. They're friends but when the game starts we're not friends on the ice."
O'Reilly and McGinn were traded because the Avs felt they couldn't sign O'Reilly beyond this season, when he could have been an unrestricted free agent. O'Reilly was seeking an eight-year, $64 million extension with Colorado. After the trade, he signed a seven-year, $52.5 million deal with the Sabres.
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"Management did a great job with the hand they were dealt," Avs defenseman Erik Johnson said in September. "Ryan kind of put himself in a situation where he said he wanted to be here, but didn't want to be here because of his contract demands."
Avalanche-sabres statistical trade comparison
GP G A Pts. Plus-Minus
F Ryan O'Reilly, age 24
46 17 22 39 -8
Jamie McGinn, age 27
46 10 11 21 -5
F Mikhail Grigorenko, age 21
40 2 10 12 +6
D Nikita Zadorov, age 20
14 0 2 2 -7 (NHL)
28 8 10 18 -5 (AHL)
F J.T. Compher, age 20
21 7 25 32 +24 (Michigan, NCAA)
F A.J. Greer, age 19
18 1 4 5 -2 (Boston U., NCAA)
9 1 4 5 +1 (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL)
Note: The Avalanche also indirectly obtained a 2016 second-round pick and 2017 sixth-rounder from the San Jose Sharks as a result from the Buffalo trade.
Compiled by Mike Chambers, The Denver Post