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Feb. 28 looms large for O’Reilly, Avs… and any team looking to acquire him

Jan 16, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Colorado Avalanche shoots against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 27, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 7-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Interesting note here from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun about the pre-deadline, uh, deadline for Colorado and RFA center Ryan O’Reilly:

Circle Feb. 28 on your calendar. It’s as of that date that the trade freeze lifts on Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche can move the star player if it wishes to do so. They weren’t allowed to trade him for 12 months after matching Calgary’s offer sheet last Feb. 28.

There are several teams we’ve spoken to over the past week that are eagerly anticipating Colorado’s decision on O’Reilly. Do they move him or keep him?

If the Avs do put O’Reilly on the trade market (and again, we don’t’ know if they ever will), there would be at least a dozen teams interested. One of them would likely be the Vancouver Canucks, who are said to covet O’Reilly and have depth at defense, which is what the Avs would be looking for. Food for thought…

O’Reilly, who sat out half of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign embroiled in a contract squabble, recently said he wants to remain with Colorado.

“I like it here. I want to play here. I want to stay here,” O’Reilly said, per the Denver Post. “But it’s just stuff you can’t control right now. It’s easier when you don’t have to worry about that stuff and just play the game, but I don’t control it. I just stay out of the business side ’til the season is over.”

According to the Post, both O’Reilly and the Avs have agreed to play out this season and discuss a new deal in the summer. Tied with Matt Duchene for the Colorado lead in goals (with 16), O’Reilly is in the final of a two-year, $10 million deal with a base salary of $6.5 million this season, meaning the Avs will have to qualify him at $6.5 million to retain his rights — should they not work out a new deal before July.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Colorado has tremendous depth down the middle with Duchene, O’Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny, but Stastny is unrestricted at season’s end and in the midst of a stellar campaign (34 points in 43 games) which netted him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

That said, O’Reilly has successfully transitioned to the wing this season and could move there permanently if the Avs want to retain all four centers for next season.

“I feel comfortable on the wing now,” O’Reilly explained. “Within our system, Patrick [Roy] does a good job of letting everyone know what they’re supposed to do.

“It’s been great playing for him this year, for sure.”

  1. sharknad0 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    I wouldn’t want him on my team, seems like he’s got a bit of an ego

  2. sweetzinger - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    They’re going to do everything they can to sign him. He’s great on the wing with Duchene. And if Duey or MacKinnon get injured, they can move him to center.

    They’ll be trading Stastny before the deadline. Hopefully for a real solid defensive defenseman.

    Duchene and MacKinnon down the middle. Landeskog and O’Reilly on the wings. Johnson, if he can continue to improve, another d-man, an offensive d-man and poof, recipe for success.

    All going according to plan.

    • withseidelinn - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:01 AM

      I think the Leafs might take a run at him, they could offer up Gunnarsson or Gleason plus a higher pick or high end prospect. I’m not sure how it would work with salary unless the Avs retained some.

    • flash8910 - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      The question is not whether the Avs want to sign him or not. The question is if he is worth $6.5 million per season. Due the offer sheet structure, he is making $6.5 million this year. The qualifying offer for next season must start at $6.5 million.

  3. tn16 - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    Him for edler straight up

  4. polegojim - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    He’s a great asset and a good player… but certainly not great, nor a Roster Breaker either way.

    Like to see the Avs sign him… but if things go even remotely like last time… Bye Bye Ryan.

    Nobody is worth that kind of drama… and esp twice.

  5. rainyday56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:14 AM

    Mctavish should trade for him …. 😉

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