O’Reilly Contract Creates More Problems Than It Solves

The tedious tale of Ryan O’Reilly’s NHL future came to an end on Thursday, when Colorado matched the Calgary Flames $10m offer sheet.

Avalanche GM Greg Sherman inexplicably decided that the Avs could and would match a deal that pays O’Reilly $6.5m next year, despite the clubs steadfast determination not to budge past $3.5m during increasingly acrimonious negotiations.

And whilst Sherman was blowing the Avs wage structure to pieces, Flames GM Jay Feaster was left with egg on his face when it was revealed the franchise had drastically misinterpreted a clause in the new CBA and would have all most certainly lost O’Reilly to re-entry waivers had he signed with Calgary!

Whilst both teams management are now under pressure, O’Reilly is set to pocket a cool $10m over the next two years.

I’m not going to dwell on the Flames too much, but it was an embarrassing foot note to the deal which Feaster seems to want to paint over now they have missed out on their target.

Back in the burgundy; O’Reilly returned to action tonight for Colorado as they travelled to Columbus. Where he led the team in scoring last season, the noticeably bulked up center was behind Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny in the pecking order for the clash with the Blue Jackets.

Whilst the young star may not stay on the 3rd line as be regains match sharpness, the real knock on of his return may be the potential damage his new contract could do to the teams structure in the near future.

O’Reilly is without doubt a very talented two way player. His offensive game still has some question marks (was 2011/12 a flash in the pan or a break out year) his defensive game is extremely strong. But if Colorado wanted to keep him beyond the 2 years his new deal lasts for, they’ll need to stump up at least $6.5m in 2014. Problem is, Colorado will also need to re-sign, or make a decision on, Matt Duchene, Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny and at least one netminder (presumably Varlamov) between now and then. July 2014 is now a tremendously important and difficult time period for the Avs top brass.

It is not hard to imagine Landeskog and Duchene will also look for a deal in the region of $6.5m now. Paul Stastny probably won’t get another $6m+ deal but will look for a reasonable amount to stay in Denver and PA Parenteau, Dave Jones and Erik Johnson are all under contract past summer 2014.

The net result is that the Avs could, potentially, spend $30-35m on seven players from 2014, none of them a starting goalie. That’s a pretty bold business strategy, especially with the cap ceiling coming down next year.

It’s not an impossible situation – the aforementioned seven players could provide a solid core if the players projected potentials pan out. But we’re back to the ‘if’s again on that one.

The point I am trying to make is that Greg Sherman has given himself one hell of a headache. He could conceivably trade Stastny and create some cap space that way. But then he could have got O’Reilly for $4m per year as well…..

Whatever Sherman does, or even if Sherman is ousted and someone else comes in, the franchise is at a point that could make or break it.

Play-off appearances have been few and far between since the cap era began, and the team seems to be in a constant state of rebuilding. By matching Calgary’s offer sheet, Colorado seem to be backing the horses they have – now they need to make sure they start crossing the finish line in a winning position.


About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on March 2, 2013, in Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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