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That was fast: Avs match Calgary’s offer sheet for O’Reilly

Feb 28, 2013, 9:39 PM EDT

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Just a few hours after Calgary announced it had signed Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet, the Colorado Avalanche announced they matched it.

In a brief statement posted to the team website, the Avs confirmed they’ve agreed to match a two-year deal with an average annual value of $5 million. O’Reilly, 22, will have a salary of $1 million for this season, plus a $2.5 million signing bonus.

Next season, he will be paid $6.5 million.

Had the Avalanche not matched, they would’ve received Calgary’s first- and third-round picks in the 2013 NHL draft as compensation.

But the Avs did match, a development that should provide some interesting moments.

The potential for awkwardness is off the charts considering how soured the relationship between O’Reilly and the organization has become — last week, O’Reilly’s father wrote a scathing email to the Denver Post, blasting the organization and how it handled contract negotiations. Earlier, defenseman Shane O’Brien said the situation had “gotten ugly.”

That said, it didn’t take long for Colorado to decide O’Reilly was worth $10 million dollars.

The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports the Avs decided to match Calgary’s offer sheet after “about two hours” after consultation with ownership. It also ensures that Colorado will retain O’Reilly for at least a calendar year, as teams aren’t eligible to trade players for a full season after matching an offer sheet.

So, looking ahead, Colorado can’t trade O’Reilly until Feb. 28, 2014 — a curious date, given the 2012 NHL trade deadline was Feb. 27 and the year before, it was Feb. 28.

Of course, the 2014 trade deadline could be bumped if NHLers participate in the Winter Olympics in Sochi (in 2010, the deadline was on Mar. 3.)

Another aspect to consider is what Colorado will be faced with by the contract’s end. In 2014, O’Reilly will still be a RFA and coming off a year in which he earned $6.5 million, meaning any qualifying offer must be at least that much.

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