Huh. That was fast.
Less than four hours after it was announced that the Calgary Flames had signed prodigal two-way centre Ryan O'Reilly to an offer sheet, the Colorado Avalanche have matched the offer.
Here's their entire statement on the matter, which is delightfully terse:
DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced tonight that the team has matched the Calgary Flames’ offer sheet for forward Ryan O’Reilly.
Speaking of uncomfortable, I'm sure O'Reilly's return to the Avalanche dressing room isn't going to be weird at all.
"This was a goal of ours from the outset to get Ryan signed, and that goal was completed today," said a triumphant Greg Sherman on a conference call.
The move came not long after the Flames scored two goals on the Avalanche in under a minute to go up 2-0 in their Thursday night affair. Think the quick offensive outburst underscored just how in need of O'Reilly's gifts the Avalanche are these days? If so, way to blow it, Calgary.
A lot of people are going to ask how the Avalanche could match so quickly when they were so reluctant to make this same deal earlier, but it seems pretty clear that the Flames forced the issue.
Really, the swiftness with which Colorado went ahead here might be one of the few aspects of the whole debacle for which you can give them credit. O'Reilly has been noticeably absent from the Avalanche lineup. The moment they decided to match, why maintain that absence any longer than necessary? Colorado has needed O'Reilly for two months. They're in the basement of the worst division in hockey. If they had waited the full week and then matched, wasting valuable time in a shortened season that they don't have to waste, they would have looked like ever bigger fools.
So good on you, Sherman, for wasting no time in cutting O'Reilly his $2.5 million cheque and bringing this ridiculous situation to an quick conclusion.
But this may not be the end of Avalanche/O'Reilly saga. What happens now?
That's one option. The other is that they keep him, at which point he becomes yet another Avalanche star that will need a new deal in 2014. Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Paul Stastny are all due for extensions then as well. I would suggest Calgary's decision to make this a two-year deal had something to do with this. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't enough to scare Colorado away.
At least for now.