Avalanche hope to stay within budget while retaining Stastny, O’Reilly

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Colorado Avalanche executive Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy met with the media on Thursday to discuss this offseason, which comes down to walking the tight rope as far as maintaining a balanced budget and improving their team.

Retaining restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly and unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny at the right price stands as the biggest obstacle. Sakic at least indicated that the team intends to bring both back, if they can afford it.

“We’re hopeful we can sign (Stastny). We’ve got a structure, and he understands that,” Sakic said.

“We have a structure here, and we believe in taking care of our core guys, and Ryan and Paul are part of that.”

Earlier today, ESPN reported that contract talks are expected to intensify between the Avalanche and Stastny, 28, next week. The Avalanche backed that up during the press conference.

(You can get a better idea about Stastny’s value by reading his entry in our “UFA of the Day” series here.)

The Avalanche filed for club-elected salary arbitration with O’Reilly, 23, on Sunday. His agent said the two sides aren’t very close and made it clear that the two-way forward would prefer a long-term contract instead of the one or two-year deal he’d end up with in arbitration. Not surprisingly, the Avalanche didn’t provide many details, although Sakic didn’t close the door to getting a more substantial deal done before arbitration.

It’s easy to look at the history between O’Reilly and the Avalanche and wonder if this is a broken relationship, but Sakic at least attempted to shoot that theory down.

… Then again, maybe things are at least a little strained:

None of this is especially shocking – the Avalanche also hope to improve this summer, just like every other team – yet this unanswered question hangs as pretty interesting:

Matt Duchene’s six-year, $30 million deal kicks in next season, for what it’s worth.

In less pertinent contract discussions, it sounds like the team is open-minded to bringing back defenseman Andre Benoit, although that might also come down to finding the right deal.