What most Avalanche fans expected to be the first priority for the team during this offseason has now dragged on nearly into September.
Well, some news surfaced a couple of days ago that might help to explain why it is taking a little bit more time for this deal to get done.
Mike Chambers, of The Denver Post, reported that Ryan O'Reilly wants to sign a five-year extension with the Avalanche.
Word is he wants a five-year deal and the Avs are only offering three. He figures to make between $3 million and $4.5 million annually.
While five years seems like a good number for a guy that exploded onto the scene, and many Avalanche fans in the Twitterverse have expressed a desire to see O'Reilly locked up long term, there are some down sides to that.
In a previous article, I predicted that Ryan O'Reilly would likely be given a three-year contract at about $3 million a year for a salary cap, which seems to be the what the Avalanche are offering.
My reasoning for this was very simple:
The team wants him to play hard for the next two seasons and prove that his performance this year is the type of thing that the team can expect from him year in and year out.
The team will also want to guarantee that O'Reilly will still be a restricted free agent when his next contract ends so that they will continue to retain the same bargaining power with him that they currently have.
I don't really see the Avalanche moving from that number of three years specifically because of the reason mentioned above. They are going to want to make sure O'Reilly is restricted when his next contract comes up.
Anything over three years in his next contract will leave O'Reilly as an unrestricted free agent once that contract ends.
The only saving grace that might show up for this is if the owners get their way with the next collective bargaining agreement and players must play for 10 years before becoming unrestricted. This seems unlikely, though.
However it goes, at least the Avalanche faithful now have a picture as to why this particular stalemate has taken so long.
You have to believe that both sides are going to be desperate to get a deal done before the lockout comes along, which seems more and more likely every day, so fans have to hope for a compromise.
I don't think that the money has ever been the issue, and Greg Sherman has done a great job at finding solid dollar values for the contracts he hands out.
The thing that is making or breaking things right now seems to be the years. If the Avalanche want a deal done, they may have to go above the number that they want and deal with the fact that O'Reilly may have to be unrestricted.
To make certain they get this deal done, the Avalanche may have to offer four years to O'Reilly. That would likely seal the deal.
If nothing else, at least nobody else will be able to offer O'Reilly anything during a lockout.