It seemed inevitable that Colorado and Ryan O’Reilly would get to their salary arbitration hearing and, based on a report that surfaced Monday, it now feels like a virtual lock.
O’Reilly is reportedly seeking a $6.75 million deal for next season, per The Hockey News. It’s a big ask from the 23-year-old, as the figure would make O’Reilly the 24th-highest salaried forward in the NHL — on par with the likes of Jeff Carter and Joe Thornton — and give him a bigger cap hit than Colorado’s current highest-paid player, Matt Duchene ($6M per).
The Avs, meanwhile, are countering with a decidedly less expensive number, relatively speaking: $5.525M, which is technically a salary reduction. Per the conditions of Colorado matching Calgary’s offer sheet for O’Reilly two seasons ago, he made $6.5 million in salary last year after netting $3.5 the first (with a $2.5M signing bonus).
Avs offering $5.525 million in arb. That represents 15% pay cut from ’13-14 salary of $6.5 million, maximum allowed under CBA.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) July 21, 2014
So yeah, Colorado’s playing a little hardball.
How this all shakes out remains to be seen. For all the drama surrounding his contractual status over the last two years, O’Reilly is still a quality two-way forward that continues to produce despite the white noise, notching career highs in goals (28) and points (64) last year for the Central Division-winning Avs.
As for those Avs… Colorado will catch some heat for its brazen approach, but remember — the club has been very consistent with the way it’s handled O’Reilly since his entry-level deal expired. The Avs believe they know what O’Reilly’s market value is, and they’re sticking to it.