If the Avs trade O’Reilly, they need to hit a home run

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It’s not often that a talented 24-year-old center is expected to be traded. But that’s the case with Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly, whose tenure with the Avalanche has been marked by contentious contract negotiations with the club.

Last summer, O’Reilly signed a two-year, $12 million deal that left the player a pending unrestricted free agent after 2015-16. If the Avs can’t re-sign him to an extension, they really have no other choice but to trade him, lest they lose him for nothing a la Paul Stastny.

Simply put, if the Avs do trade O’Reilly, they cannot afford to screw it up. Assuming Evgeni Malkin isn’t actually for sale, O’Reilly could well be the most valuable player on the offseason trade market. He’s three years younger than Toronto’s Phil Kessel, and centers are generally in higher demand than wingers.

What should be interesting to see is how much O’Reilly controls the process. After all, no team is going to pay a huge price to get a young player without some semblance of confidence that the player can be re-signed. (Remember when Garth Snow gambled on Thomas Vanek and lost?)

On top of that, there aren’t exactly a ton of teams with the assets to give the Avs what they need. Like, say, a good young defenseman.

So, for the Avs to trade O’Reilly, they’ll need to find a team that:

— Has confidence it can re-sign him;
— Has the cap space, both now and in the future;
— Has the right assets;
— Is willing to pay a big price.

Feel free to add your trade proposals in the comments section.

How ’bout a deal with the Leafs involving Jake Gardiner?