The Colorado Avalanche were finally able to lock up their man, and not a moment too soon.
Colorado Avalanche front office personnel Joe Sakic, Greg Sherman and Patrick Roy were ready to head into arbitration with their forward, Ryan O’Reilly, where the next contract for him would be decided. It was then that the two sides finally decided that they could come to an agreement without the help of an arbitrator.
Going into the meeting, the Avalanche had set their preference for O’Reilly’s next salary at $5.525 million, while O’Reilly and his agent countered with wanting $6.75 million. This difference in value clearly stems from O’Reilly’s former contract.
The last time O’Reilly was a free agent, he signed an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames for 2 years $10 million, which averaged out to a $5 million cap hit against the Avalanche for the past two years, which is where they started their negotiations.
However, the contract was broken up so that O’Reilly received $3.5 million during the first season, and $6.5 million during the second year. Therefore, O’Reilly and his agent believed that negotiations should start from the $6.5 million mark.
For the first time, O’Reilly has signed a contract, excluding his rookie deal, that the Avalanche have actually negotiated with him. This bodes well for the future, as it appears that there never was any animosity between the two sides, but merely a difference in opinion in starting points in the negotiations.
The contract is for 2 years, with O’Reilly being paid $5.8 million in the first year and $6.2 million in the second year, averaging out to a $6 million cap hit.
To go along with that, the rumors of the Avalanche wanting to sign O’Reilly for the sole purpose of trading him can be put to rest, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post. Dater reported shortly after the signing was announced that Joe Sakic does not intend to trade O’Reilly, but hopes that a long-term deal can still be worked out between the two sides.
Joe Sakic tells me this is no sign-and-trade thing with ROR. "We want him long term, and we'll keep working on that"
— Adrian Dater (@adater) July 23, 2014
What does this mean for the Colorado Avalanche? Well, for starters, it means that they only have one more order of business this offseason before entering training camp: resigning restricted free agent Tyson Barrie. As of right now, according to www.capgeek.com, the Colorado Avalanche would have a little less than $3 million to offer Barrie, however that is not the case.
Right now, with Barrie still unsigned, the Avalanche have 25 men on their roster, whereas they are only allowed to have 23 men dressed on opening night against Minnesota. With that in mind, it means that there are at least three men who must be either cut, traded, or sent to the Avs minor league affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
If the Avalanche were to send just their 3 players with the lowest cap hits (Nick Holden, Maxim Noreau and Marc-Andre Cliche), that would still free up $1.925 million more in cap space. And, there is no way that Nick Holden will miss the opening night lineup, which means that number should be even higher.
Barrie resigning will happen, it’s just a matter of time and agreeing to a fair contract (I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign a long term contract, 4 years or longer, at $3.75 million, the amount the Avalanche are paying to Eric Johnson currently).
What’s dangerous, and what no doubt Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are aware of, is that after the 2015-2016 season, there will be some very serious decisions to be made. As it stands now, these key players will all have their contracts expire that offseason: Ryan O’Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Tanguay, Jamie McGinn, Maxime Talbot, and Eric Johnson.
If the salary cap continues to increase as it did this past year, from $63 million to $69 million, it should be no problem to resign most, if not all, of those players. O’Reilly, MacKinnon, McGinn and Johnson, at least, all appear to be a part of the core of players Sakic and Roy want to be a part of the core for several years to come.