Colorado Avalanche Match Calgary Flames' Offer Sheet for Ryan O'Reilly

Ethan GrantAnalyst IFebruary 28, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 14: Ryan O'Reilly #37 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on March 14, 2012 in Buffalo, New York. The Avalanche defeated the Sabres 5-4 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a long and drawn-out process, the Colorado Avalanche now have a number in mind when it comes to re-signing Ryan O'Reilly to a contract.

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. 

---End of update---


Sportsnet's Chris Johnston confirmed the Flames had filed the signing with the NHL on Twitter:

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:

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:

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:

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.