If you haven’t been following the Ryan O’Reilly situation with the Colorado Avalanche, there’s one word you could use to describe it – ugly. The team has an arbitration date with O’Reilly set for July 23rd and it’s clear that there’s a decent amount of resentment on both sides. Given the tension and the likelihood that O’Reilly is going to be leave as soon as he’s an unrestricted free agent, should the Avalanche trade him away now?
To be clear, arbitration doesn’t always mean an unhappy union between a player and a team. Sometimes it works out quite well. Unfortunately, other times it leads to hurt feelings and a weakened relationship. Sometimes it just leads to odd situations. Regardless, the fact O’Reilly and the Avs are headed for arbitration isn’t a guarantee that he won’t stay in Colorado beyond the near future. It just doesn’t help that notion.
Adrian Dater believes O’Reilly has this thought going through his mind:
“I only have to play here two more years. By then, I’m only 25 and a UFA. I’ll play wherever I want, at top dollar!”
He believes the Avs are thinking this:
“OK, we’ll listen to every offer that comes in for him. If they’re not good enough, we’ll keep him locked up for two years and get the benefits of his play in that time. Maybe something will change that will want to make him finally accept our terms. If not, we’ll deal him away for a good return. We control the cards!”
Those are some logical assumptions and they correctly indicate that the Avs would be better off trading O’Reilly sooner than later. Should they retain him for two years due to an arbitration ruling, the Avs would be best off shipping O’Reilly out as soon as the ink is dry on the paper.
O’Reilly is an extremely talented player, but he’ll have more value to the Avs in the assets he may be able to bring in considering his long-term future with the club is in doubt. O’Reilly’s ability to light the lamp, particularly his 28 goals from 2013-14, would be difficult to replace. Still, if the organization is going to plan ahead, they need to cash in on O’Reilly while his value is at its highest.
Here’s a scenario which makes a lot of sense. The Avs and O’Reilly settle the awkward contract situation through arbitration. Whether the ruling is for one year or two, O’Reilly should then be traded as his value will be at its highest. A team would be less willing to shell out resources should they be facing the daunting task of signing O’Reilly to a new contract. Look at the Dan Boyle situation with the New York Islanders. Trading for O’Reilly with a one or two-year deal is much more attractive than just securing his rights. There’s also the fact that his value is very high coming off of the 28-goal 2013-14 regular season. It’s possible he’ll slump or suffer an injury in 2014-15 which would again weaken his trade value.
It’ll be interesting to see what will pan out. If the Avalanche are convinced O’Reilly will walk as soon as he’s able, why not pull the trigger on a deal while the market is at its hottest?