Avs’ O’Reilly remains in KHL as he awaits new contract

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Ryan O’Reilly has a contract to play professional hockey, but there’s a problem: it’s currently with Metallurg in the KHL, not the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that he’ll stay in Russia until he sees a deal from the Avs.

While the two sides cannot sign anything until the CBA is ratified by the NHLPA, the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that the current issue is term. O’Reilly wants a five-year pact while Colorado is offering three.

It’s been a tough haggling session between the team and its promising 21-year-old forward after his breakthrough work in 2011-12.

O’Reilly went from 26 points in each of his previous two seasons to 55 last year, jumping up to 19:32 minutes of ice time per game (up from his previous high of 16:46). That’s a sign of incredible growth, but perhaps the Avalanche are unsure if he’ll continue in that direction or if he’ll regress?

For the most part, Colorado did an excellent job locking up key pieces for reasonable prices during the offseason, though.

Even after a tough campaign or two, Matt Duchene’s two-year, $7 million deal is a relative bargain. The same goes for top blueliner Erik Johnson, whose cap hit is a respectable $3.75 million per season.

Deals like those could help them be a sleeper team in this short season, yet bringing O’Reilly back would help that cause significantly.