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A few thoughts on Ryan O’Reilly

Jan 17, 2014, 12:42 PM EDT

Cory Schneider, Ryan O'Reilly AP

Lots of trade chatter about Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly on the old series of tubes. This blurb from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, for example:

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 they wish to do so. The Avalanche 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. Does the team move him or keep him?

He’s a restricted free agent July 1 whose qualifying offer costs $6.5 million. No small potatoes. Of course the Avalanche can also sign him to an extension for less money if O’Reilly is up for that.

A few thoughts on this:

— It’s hard to see the Avs committing to both O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, a pending unrestricted free agent, for the long term. Both are natural centers, as is Matt Duchene, who’s already locked up through 2018-19. And at some point, they’ll probably want to explore moving Nathan MacKinnon to his natural position in the middle, where forwards can exert the most influence on a game.

— The Avs could use another top-four defenseman, and O’Reilly could get them that. As a pending UFA, Stastny isn’t worth as much on the trade market. To maximize their assets, re-signing Stastny and trading O’Reilly may — repeat: may — be the way to go.

O’Reilly says he wants to stay in Colorado. But remember, that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t that long ago that things got pretty nasty between club and player. Granted, a lot has changed since then. New management. New coach. According to the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater, “any tension between player and team has dissipated.” But has it dissipated completely? The owners haven’t changed, and they’re the ones that write the checks. And could that same tension re-emerge this summer if contract talks go badly again?

  1. jernster21 - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    That’s great, O’Reilly is a natural centerman…but he’s actually playing the wing, so if you get rid of him, you have a gaping hole at wing in your top 6. People think that they can’t keep both O’Reilly and Stastny, but Stastny isn’t going to make more than 4.5-5mm a year with the Avalanche in my opinion if he’s resigned – he got his massive deal already; if he wants more money he can certainly get it on the open market, but I don’t see the Avs writing a blank check on him again and I think Stastny is a pretty loyal guy who has had roots in Denver for a long time – I think they come up with a deal that works for both sides. The cap is going up anyway and the Avs already have plenty of cap space, it’s not like their backs are against the wall and they have to get rid of anyone.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Avs have been operating with an internal budget for quite some time, cap space means nothing under those circumstances.

      If anything the upcoming jump in the cap floor – if ownership is going to continue to cheap out – is more of a problem for them than anything.

      • jernster21 - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Most teams that suck and have no reason to spend money don’t. It’s called rebuilding.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Cap may be going up, but can they afford to actually spend the real money in salary to keep both? I agree it’s not a big deal to move a center to the wing, but with Sarich and Hejda not getting any younger, they have a need to improve with a top 4 d-man – particularly on the left side.

    • Jason Brough - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      “Stastny isn’t going to make more than 4.5-5mm a year”
      I will take the over on that bet.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        No kidding, $6.6M is a lot for him right now, but he’s not going to discount nearly $2M for his next deal. Maybe $5.5M or so, but likely closer to $6M.

      • jernster21 - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Typical, out of context response. I said with the Avs, and that he would get more on the open market. Toronto would give their left nut for Stastny.

      • davebabychreturns - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        Most likely: the Panthers fall all over themselves to hit the cap ceiling and pay Stastny according to their “$3.5m to Scottie Upshall” salary structure.

      • Jason Brough - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        I will still take the over if he signs with the Avs. The cap is going up.

      • jernster21 - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        I suppose it’s possible but I just don’t see much more than 5 for the mere fact that Duchene will be making 6, and he’s the #1 center, not Stastny. I can’t see MacKinnon being in a #3 center role for all that long either, pushing Stastny down another slot. Sadly, I hate the #1/2/3 line labels – what’s wrong with just having 3 great lines? The issue comes down to how they structure the salaries based on lines. Stastny IS better than a 3rd line center, and a #1 center on a lot of teams.

      • Jason Brough - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Duchene signed that deal as a pending RFA. You can’t compare his situation at the time to Stastny’s now. He had way less leverage.

      • jpelle82 - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        still doesnt mean he’s worth it. more than 6.6 million? he went from a .96 ppg player in his first four seasons to a .71 in the last four seasons. a 25% and 6 minute production drop. he’s never put up 30 goals, doesnt look like he will this year either. i dont know…hard to justify a raise to 7 mill when you’ve got duchene sitting at 6 million per year and o’reilly (roughly the same numbers as stastny) probably ready to accept the same deal duchene did.

  2. travishenryskid - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I hope the Sabres are on this. Ehrhoff + Foligno or something along those lines.

  3. cameltoews - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Dan girardi and JT miller for o’reilly

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