How Will You Remember Ryan O’Reilly?


Ryan O’Reilly has likely played his last game with the Colorado Avalanche.

Maybe I’m being cruel, pushing him out the door before he officially leaves, but the writing is on the wall. With the Avs trading for and signing center Carl Soderberg for $23.75 million over five years, there’s simply no room for O’Reilly and his $7.5 million a season demands.

So how will O’Reilly be remembered by Avalanche faithful?

He was selected 33rd overall and surprisingly made the team in his rookie season. He was thought of as a steal and certainly lived up to his promise. While not an elite goalscorer, O’Reilly’s two way game and compete level made him a terror on the ice. He was known for being the hardest working guy on and off the ice. The first to arrive, the last to leave.

O’Reilly posted 107 points in 236 games during his first three seasons on his entry level contract. In the final year of his deal he put up 55 points in 81 games. Fellow 2009 draftee, Matt Duchene, posted 150 points in 219 games during those same three seasons. Duchene opted for a team friendly bridge contract, signing a 2-year deal worth $7 million. O’Reilly wanted to go a different route. Following his best season as a pro, he wanted to get paid. He held out from the start of the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season as a restricted free agent, seeking between $4-5 million a year.

O’Reilly almost left Colorado for Calgary, signing a 2-year offer sheet worth $10 million to play hockey for the Flames. The first year paid him $3.5 million, while the second year paid him $6.5 million, which is key.

In the following two seasons, O’Reilly put up 119 points in 162 games while also winning the Lady Byng trophy and proving his value as a two-way forward. With his deal up, O’Reilly was seeking another big payday. The Avs elected to take him to an arbitrator, hoping to pay him the minimum ($5.5 million on a one or two year deal) instead of signing him to a big deal. At the last minute, the team and O’Reilly agreed on a new contract that paid him $12 million over two years.

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This past season O’Reilly put up 55 points in 82 games, a slight drop off from his 64 points in the previous season. That didn’t stop him from wanting a long term contract in the range of $7-8 million per year this offseason.

Joe Sakic expressed his interest in re-signing #90, but with the two sides at an impasse when it comes to a new contract and the recent addition of Carl Soderberg, it seems that O’Reilly’s days are numbered.

O’Reilly did a lot of good things in an Avs sweater. He started off as a reliable third line defensive center and developed into a strong two-way top six player that can play any forward position. He scored the first goal of the Patrick Roy coaching era. You never heard him complain about his role, even though he shifted lines and positions on a nightly basis. He was never outworked and often times drew comparisons to Avalanche favorite Chris Drury. He grows one hell of a beard.

But then there’s the off the ice stuff, namely when it comes to contracts. O’Reilly was often times perceived as greedy, always wanting the maximum amount of money whether he’s worth it or not. Unlike Duchene, O’Reilly has never taken a team friendly contract or realistically assessed his value. He’s always looked out for himself, which rarely looks good in the eyes of the fans.

Personally, as much as I like O’Reilly on the ice, his off the ice contract negotiations are too much for me to overlook. Hockey is a business, but that goes both ways. O’Reilly can feel he deserves as much money as he can get, but fans can resent him and feel he’s overpricing himself.


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