“Ryan would like to stay in Colorado. At the same time, a long-term deal has not been worked out, or isn’t close to being worked out. So, Ryan’s unrestricted in two years, and under the model now – given that Colorado has [filed for arbitration] – short-term looks like what the future is for Ryan going forward, possibly year to year, or for the next two years.”
That was Ryan O’Reilly’s agent, Pat Morris, this afternoon on Sportsnet 590 The FAN radio in Toronto.
In case you couldn’t tell, it was a strong message to the Avalanche that the team is playing a dangerous game, and risks losing the 23-year-old forward for nothing in a couple of years.
“We’re now preparing for an arbitration case that we didn’t think we’d have to attend to,” said Morris. “And at the same time, as of the 25th of June, people can entertain talking to [restricted free agents], and he’s an RFA effectively until July 5th, at which time period then it’s just an arbitration case beyond that.”
If it does go to arbitration, O’Reilly could pick a one-year or two-year award. Or, he could sign an offer sheet between July 1-5.
“We had some warning that the [arbitration option] might be a situation that they take advantage of,” said Morris. “It’s within the CBA. Ryan understands that. He also understands that it’s unique – no player (in the new CBA) has been [taken to arbitration] for a pay-cut that is of his stature.”
All of which is why, unless a long-term deal is signed soon, you can expect to hear O’Reilly’s name in trade speculation. Remember that things got ugly between him and the Avs the last time they tried to work out a deal, and while RFA negotiations can often be tough, they don’t seem to be headed in the right direction, once again.