It's been a big day for Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster. First, he acquired Brian McGrattan in a trade from the Nashville Predators. It was a head-scratcher of a move, since McGrattan was on waivers just yesterday. Why trade a player for him?
As it turns out, he had an answer: pushing up against the 50-contract limit, Feaster needed to remain at 49 so that he could sign holdout restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly to an offer sheet.
It's a two-year deal, according to TSN. O'Reilly will earn $1 million in salary this year with a $2.5 million signing bonus. In year two, he'll earn a cool $6.5 million. It's $10 million total, averaging out to a $5 million cap hit.
$5 million is a pertinent number, because it's exactly what O'Reilly was reported to be asking from the Avalanche when he turned down a short-term and a long-term offer, both worth about three and a half million.
As a result, we know that the Avalanche don't want to pay this price. Furthermore, the big second year of the deal means O'Reilly's qualifying offer at the end of this contract will be $6.5 million. If Colorado wasn't comfortable with $5 million, then $6.5 million is going to make them squirm.
But now they might have no choice. Can they really afford to lose O'Reilly for draft picks after all this?
Avalanche GM Greg Sherman has lost a lot of face here, but he might have to match the offer just to save what little is left. How annoyed do you think he is right about now? The Flames and Avalanche play Thursday night. If only the two GMs were forced to sit together.
If the Flames can indeed pry O'Reilly out of Colorado, this will be a big win for the club as it currently stands. It's a massive boost to their core. They're one of the league's thinnest teams at centre. O'Reilly immediately becomes their number one guy, and gives Jarome Iginla a bona fide running mate.
It might not be the best course of action for a team in need of a rebuild to give a first-round pick and a third-round pick, but you never know how a prospect will turn out. O'Reilly is young, and potentially, a piece that can be built around.
We can consider it a big win for O'Reilly. He gets his money, and if he gets it in Calgary, he'll be an instant star. Plus, if the end of the Jarome Iginla era in cowtown is drawing nigh, either due to a trade or simply because he's running out of steam, the Flames may be looking for a captain quite soon as well. O'Reilly's been rumoured to be interested in such an honour.
Finally, it's a big win for hockey fans. This situation became absurd some time ago. Clubs knew what O'Reilly wanted, and they knew the number that would make the Avalanche uncomfortable. Why did it take so long for this to happen? It only made sense, and the longer O'Reilly went without being offer-sheeted, the more ridiculous it seemed.
The real losers here, apart from the Avalanche? Conspiracy theorists. This should serve to quiet the allegations of collusion among NHL General Managers. As much as we've lamented the death of the offer sheet, this is the sixth one since 2007.
Stay tuned. For the first time in years, the Northwest Division just got interesting.
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