Colorado Avalanche Match Calgary Flames' Offer Sheet for Ryan O'Reilly
Unfortunately, they didn't negotiate that number themselves.
That's all thanks to the Calgary Flames, who signed O'Reilly to a two-year offer sheet on Thursday. The Avalanche now have a big decision to make when it comes to bringing the talented Canadian back into the fold.
UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 28, at 9:25 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
According to this tweet by the Avs' official team account, the team has matched Calgary's offer sheet and O'Reilly will not be joining the Flames after all.
BREAKING: @avalanche announced tonight that the team has matched the Calgary Flames’ offer sheet for forward Ryan O’Reilly. More to follow..— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 1, 2013
---End of update---
I can confirm the #flames have signed Ryan O'Reilly to an offer sheet. $3.5M and $6.5M.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 28, 2013
As TSN's Bob McKenzie reported on Twitter, the Avalanche now have a week to make a decision on his future with the team—a decision that will be final for at least one year after said contract is matched:
If COL matches the offer, COL cannot trade O'Reilly for one calendar year from day it matches the offer.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 28, 2013
The 22-year-old center has been one of the biggest stories of the season for the Avalanche so far, specifically because he hasn't come anywhere close to a contract agreement. O'Reilly, who last played pro hockey in late January with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, has yet to suit up for an NHL game this season.
The lockout put a damper on negotiations, and the two sides were reportedly still far apart as recently as Wednesday (as reported by Victor Fernandes of the Erie Times-News).
With that in mind, the Flames swooped in and made an offer that the Avalanche now have the opportunity to match. However, as noted by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun on Twitter, the second year of the contract could keep the Avalanche from striking back:
As per @darrendreger, Flames sign Ryan O'Reilly to offer sheet, two years, $10 M. Key is Year 2 at $6.5 M; that's big QO in two years— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 28, 2013
While the move certainly comes as a shock to Colorado fans who are excited about the future for the young star-in-waiting, it's also a shock to the entire league. As Johnston notes, qualifying offers are rarely signed by a restricted free agent in the NHL:
This is just the sixth NHL offer sheet since 2007.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 28, 2013
O'Reilly has 41 career goals in three seasons with Colorado since joining the team via the 33rd pick in the 2009 NHL draft. Also a member of Canada's 2012 World Championship team, O'Reilly could be heading back to his hometown country to play professional hockey in just seven short days.
One thing is clear—the Jeopardy music is now playing as the Avalanche decide what to do about O'Reilly's future with their franchise.
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