The Colorado Avalanche could have a tough decision to face in the coming months. Paul Stastny is an unrestricted free agent while Ryan O’Reilly is a restricted free agent. It’s possible that the team can afford to keep both, but that could mean that they won’t be able to upgrade in other areas. So it’s also likely that they’ll have to decide which one to pay, while letting the other one go in order to improve the team in other positions.
If the Avs were to pay O’Reilly, Stastny would likely walk for nothing. As an unrestricted free agent, he’s free to leave on July 1st for nothing. It would be a shame if the Avs lost Stastny for nothing, but that’s the reality of the situation. There’s a slight possibility that they can deal him for a minimal gain to a team that believes they can sign him before July 1st, but those are very rare cases.
If the Avs were to pay Stastny, they could get value for O’Reilly. As an unrestricted free agent, the Avs would be compensated if O’Reilly were to sign with another team or they could deal his rights to another team. The Avs have been in this position before with O’Reilly. Instead of dealing him or signing him to a new contract, they had to match an offer sheet that was presented to O’Reilly by the Calgary Flames. I doubt things go that far this time. If the Avs choose to pay Stastny, O’Reilly would likely be traded as soon as possible.
Personally, given the choices, I’d pay O’Reilly. As good as Stastny was this past year and in the playoffs, O’Reilly was just as good. There’s also the fact that O’Reilly is now a left wing who has great chemistry with Matt Duchene while Nathan MacKinnon could easily fill Stastny’s role as the second line center. That would also open up the third line center spot for Joey Hishon, who showed a lot of talented in a pressure cooker situation.
Obviously, the best case scenario is that the Avs retain both Stastny and O’Reilly and still find a way to upgrade the team. Both players are valuable members of the Avalance core and it would be a shame to see either one of them go.
Avs Family, if you could only choose one, who would it be?