Good news came for Colorado Avalanche fans yesterday as the deadline for teams to sign restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet passed without much notice. Now the Avalanche and O’Reilly have until July 15 to hammer out a new contract. If no deal is made, the two sides will head to team elected salary arbitration between the 15th and the end of the month.
Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the Avs and O’Reilly are only in this situation due to an offer sheet made by the Calgary Flames when O’Reilly was still a restricted free agent and sitting out to start the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season.
Avalanche VP of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic stated that the Avs would match any offer thrown O’Reilly’s way, but luckily it didn’t come down to that. With the draft and free agency now behind them, Sakic and the Avs #1 priority is working on a new deal for O’Reilly, who made $6.5 million last season, but only had a cap hit of $5 million. If an arbitrator rules in favor of the Avalanche, they would still have to pay him a minimum of $5.5 million O’Reilly is due at least 85% of his 2014 salary.
Thoughts: It’s good news that the Avs don’t have to deal with another offer sheet situation, but arbitration definitely looks like the most likely bet right now. It’d be great if the Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly could work out a deal, but unless O’Reilly is willing to take a long term, front loaded contract that dips in salary from year to year in order to keep the cap number down, I can’t see it happening. Given that O’Reilly is only 23-years old, a front loaded deal seems very unlikely.