Restricted free agent forward Ryan O’Reilly has finally found a deal, agreeing to a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.
Here’s more, from Russian news outlet RIA Novosti:
Metallurg suggested he would stay in Russia unless an NHL team outbid the Russians for his services.
“It has been agreed by mutual consent that if Ryan is offered a contract on more lucrative terms in the National Hockey League, Metallurg will not interfere in that contract being concluded,” the team said in a website statement.
Metallurg did not say how much O’Reilly will be paid in Russia.
The Canadian becomes the first big NHL name to move to Russia on a permanent contract since the lockout began, in a move that symbolises the KHL’s growing ability to compete with its more illustrious North American rival.
The move is sure to raise some eyebrows as O’Reilly — who led the Avs in scoring last year and led the NHL in takeaways — went the entire summer without inking a contract extension, a move Mike Chambers of the Denver Post called “crazy” on the part of the Avs:
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.
In late August, reports suggested O’Reilly was seeking a five-year extension from Colorado, while the Avs were only prepared to offer three.
That Colorado allowed O’Reilly to remain unsigned past September 15’s CBA expiration date was curious. While other teams scrambled to ink their coveted RFAs long term (think Evander Kane in Winnipeg, Cam Fowler in Anaheim, John Carlson in Washington and Tyler Seguin in Boston), the Avs let O’Reilly — arguably their best player last season — twist in the wind.
With Metallurg, O’Reilly will be reunited with his brother, Cal, who inked with the KHL club after splitting last season between Nashville, Phoenix and Pittsburgh — though Cal is currently out of the lineup after undergoing an operation.