The Ryan O'Reilly saga has been, in a word, odd. The Colorado Avalanche haven't exactly been forking over money for the forward's talents. The forward had 18 goals and 37 assists last season for the Avalanche, and had been expecting a bit of a payday. Even his father got into the mix, taking to Twitter to air his issues with the franchise (and misspelling it in the process).
— Brian O'Reilly (@coachbri1) February 14, 2013
O'Reilly later came out and disavowed what his father had said, but still was waiting for an offer that suited his skill set. It came today, but from the Calgary Flames.
The Calgary Flames, in just the sixth offer sheet since 2007, signed O'Reilly to a deal that the Avalanche have to match. Either the Avs walk away paying a lot for the forward, or the Flames lose a couple draft picks that they'd probably screw up anyway for a forward that would be beneficial. Here are the terms of the offer sheet:
O'Reilly details more clearly:2 yrs ..5M AAV … 1m salary this year and 2.5 SB … 6.5M salary next year.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 28, 2013
Here's what happens when a team signs a player to an offer sheet and the team does not match. The team that put the offer sheet out there to begin with is liable for compensation to the team that the player was "poached" from on the basis of that player's salary. In O'Reilly's case, the Flames would have to give the Avalanche their first and third round draft picks for 2013. The Avalanche have a week to sit on this and decide what to do. If they match Calgary's offer sheet, they can't trade O'Reilly for a calendar year.
The trick is in matching. As TSN's Bob McKenzie points out, the sheet itself is designed to deter Colorado from matching. The Avalanche would have to qualify him at $6.5 million at the end of this two year deal, and that would still put O'Reilly two years away from UFA rights. Whatever happens, O'Reilly will get nearly $3 million to play in fewer 30 NHL games this season. Sounds pretty good to me. The trick here is, does that deal sound better to the Calgary Flames or the Colorado Avalanche?
Let the battle of the mediocre GMs begin.
Well, that was quick. It appears the Avs have matched Calgary's offer sheet. To be specific, it took just four hours for a decision to be made. We imagine Avalanche fans will be happy to have O'Reilly back in their ranks, but we all are left wonder why Colorado didn't just sign O'Reilly in the first place if they were simply going to match another team's offer.
It's more of the same strange management in Colorado. Instead of signing a player prior to the season, let's wait and play without our best player, then pay him a large chunk of money to suit up for a fraction of the season only when another team shows interest. Makes total sense.