Two days of training camp have come and gone in Colorado. For Avalanche faithful, There has still been no sign of last season’s leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly. A restricted free agent, he has been playing in the KHL after signing a two-year pact with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Apart from the occasional boxscore, not much has come in the way of news…until now.
Tim Wharnsby of CBC reported Monday afternoon that O’Reilly is making a prorated $4 million annually in Russia. This is the amount the Avalanche would likely have to match if they wanted the center to return to the Mile High City. Making the situation more sticky, it is also believed that Metallurg would be willing to increase the amount if O’Reilly agreed to play for the entirety of the deal.
At first glance, this seems like a large sum to pay for the 21-year-old. After digging a little deeper, it seems that may not necessarily be the case.
It has been widely reported that O’Reilly seeks a five year deal with the Avalanche. Unfortunately, there are no players in the NHL making $4 million annually on five year deals. There is luckily, six players making $4 million on four year deals (according to CapGeek).
Of these six, only two scored more points than O’Reilly’s 55 last season. The average output of the list was 46.3. The average age on the list is 27.5. O’Reilly’s 21 years, would also make him the youngest of the group.
The group comparable (monetarily) players includes: Jordan Staal (who averaged more points per game than O’Reilly, but missed time due to injury), Jiri Hudler, Drew Stafford, Joe Pavelski, David Jones and P.A. Parenteau. The latter two on this list both play for the Colorado Avalanche. The latter two both signed their contracts this past off-season.
An off-season that saw the team sign all its’ restricted free agents; aside from O’Reilly that is. The inked dried; names like Johnson, Duchene, McGinn and Downie all donned new deals. O’Reilly was left waiting, until Russia came calling.
In terms of production, Parenteau lead the list of comprables with 67 points. Jones was last with 37. So while O’Reilly would rank in between the two in terms of offensive production. These numbers don’t however, tell the whole story of O’Reilly’s value. In addition to being Colorado’s leading scorer, he was also the team’s shut-down center, a key penalty killer and perhaps the team’s hardest worker. The youth can’t be discarded either, as it may equate to potential.
Currently ranking 24th in team payroll, the Avs have plenty of room under both this year’s and next year’s cap ceiling. That being said, it also shows that team brass has been relatively frugal. In fact, only Paul Stastny makes more than $4 million annually.
There may be hurt feelings on both sides; but as the lockout showed the world, no one wins in a battle of pride. The promise of the Avs season has since transformed into a question mark. The nest answer is: bite the bullet, and get a deal done.
The sooner the better. In an abridged season, time is something that neither side can afford to waste.