Over at the Denver Post, Mike Chambers investigates the peculiar case of Ryan O’Reilly:
Nothing new to report about Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly, who oddly remains unsigned as a restricted free agent. The Avs don’t talk about these things, and O’Reilly is being told not to talk, so it’s hard to do anything but speculate.
The general consensus is it’s crazy to think this devoted and accomplished young star figures to be the last player signed by general manager Greg Sherman for 2012-13.
O’Reilly, 21, just finished his entry-level deal that paid $900,000 annually — and finished it in style.
He led the Avs in scoring last season with a career-high 55 points and averaged 19:32 in ice time, most among all Colorado forwards. He also finished 14th in Selke voting and took the 10th-most faceoffs in the NHL.
You’d think Colorado would’ve locked O’Reilly away by now, especially since the Avs already reached a deal with fellow RFA Matt Duchene (two years, $7 million) back in June.
On that note, back to Chambers:
O’Reilly might be looking at a longer deal with less annual money. Either way, why isn’t this a done deal? It’s not a complex situation. Duchene might be underpaid as a No. 3 overall draft pick, but relatively speaking, $7 million over two years is not a lot of money for your defending leading scorer and possible future captain who led the NHL with 104 takeaways last season.
The wildcard, like it is with all unsigned RFAs, is the looming specter of an offer sheet.
There’s also the added issue of Colorado’s depth down the middle. Paul Stastny and Duchene are on the books for a combined $10.1 million until 2014, and 2010 first rounder Joey Hishon looks like a strong possibility to be at Avalanche training camp this fall after missing all of last year with a concussion.
This isn’t to say O’Reilly’s expendable — far from it. But it is saying the Avs might be tight with the purse strings when it comes to signing him, especially since they still haven’t hit the salary cap floor.