The Colorado Avalanche had quite a few noteworthy restricted free agents going into the off-season. Now they just have one: Ryan O’Reilly.
O’Reilly has completed his entry-level contract and might be in line for a big payday after scoring 18 goals and a team-leading 55 points in 81 games last season. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, while arguing that O’Reilly deserves a new contract, speculated that O’Reilly might command roughly $4 million annually.
The Avalanche certainly have the cap space to make that happen, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they intend to give him anything near that amount. The problem is that O’Reilly recorded just 52 combined points in his rookie and sophomore campaigns.
Should Colorado just ignore those seasons, assume that from now on he’ll be a solid top-six forward, and pay him accordingly? We doubt that the Avalanche are comfortable with that idea and if they were, then O’Reilly would have probably been signed weeks ago.
Instead all seems to be quiet on the O’Reilly front, which is certainly a troubling development this late into the summer.
Perhaps the solution will ultimately be a short-term contract so that the Avalanche can minimize their risk and O’Reilly can attempt to prove that his 2011-12 campaign wasn’t a fluke.