In mid June, the Colorado Avalanche announced that they would arrange for a salary arbitration hearing with restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly, as the team and O'Reilly's agent had been unable to agree on an extension for the talented forward. Now, almost a month and a half later, the Avalanche and O'Reilly have come to terms in advance of the arbitration hearing, meaning it will not be needed. O'Reilly has signed a two-year contract, the financial terms for which were not announced, although TSN's Darren Dreger has reported that the deal is for $12 million over the two years, although that cannot be conclusively confirmed.
The respective fates of Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny this offseason were in considerable doubt in May and June. The Avalanche had said that they wanted to keep both players and would make every effort to do so. On the first day of free agency, however, Stastny, an unrestricted free agent, split for the St. Louis Blues. Most people then assumed that with Stastny already gone, there was no way the team would fail to retain O'Reilly. Yet the days and weeks went on, arbitration drawing nearer, and there was no inclination that a deal was forthcoming. Now this issue can be put to bed.
O'Reilly certainly earned a six million dollar annual salary, if that is indeed what his contract will pay. He led the Avalanche with 28 goals last season and also contributed 36 assists en route to winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for being the player who best combined "sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability". He has established himself as a star player who's talents are comparable to the players whom Colorado has spent top-3 draft picks on in recent years. Once free agency opened, the Avalanche made sure to save salary cap space to get O'Reilly signed, and that has now been accomplished. Fans can now breathe a little easier heading into next season.
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Tags: Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL, Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly