Ryan O'Reilly

Columnist: “Crazy” that Colorado hasn’t signed O’Reilly yet


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.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
Leave a comment

The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?