Thus begins the Ryan O’Reilly auction for Avalanche?

Thus begins the Ryan O’Reilly auction for Avalanche?

The split between center Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche is inevitable. Too much vitriol under the bridge in previous contract squabbles. He’s signed through 2016 at a pretty good clip; after that, it’s UFA status and Denver in the rearview mirror.

So with the Avs nine points out of a playoff spot and desperately needing a blueline upgrade (seriously, their firmware is like two years out of date), perhaps the Ryan O’Reilly trade window is opening for the rest of the NHL.

At least that’s what former Denver Post writer Adrian Dater is reporting:

O'Reilly being offered around the league for a good D-man. Florida and Winnipeg. Pondering, Toronto and Montreal too

— Adrian Dater (@adater) December 28, 2014

People might publicly deny it, but O'Reilly is definitely in play again on the market

— Adrian Dater (@adater) December 28, 2014

The Factor’s been pretty underwhelming this year, with 20 points in 34 games and an uncharacteristic minus-11. That’s after a (contract) year in which he had 64 points in 80 games, including 28 goals. (Much of this is due to a low PDO, indicating his offense is due for a bounce-back.)

He’s even taken eight penalty minutes this season! That’s not the path to the Lady Byng, sir!

So maybe a change in scenery is due. Mile High Hockey supported the move last month:

So will Factor be moved?  Signs point to yes.  It is better to move him now while his price tag is a little steeper, despite how badly his initial departure would hurt The Avs.  Especially now that Johnson has gone down and Stuart has gone to IR, it seems like defense is somehow going to continue to regress.  So holding on to ROR hoping he can be an important piece next year won't lead to anything more than Stastny round two.  Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see if Sakic and Roy can prove more shrewd than in deals past

As Arctic Ice Hockey notes, the fit with the Winnipeg Jets is an interesting one if and when their defense is healthy:

You have to think the only healthy Jets defenseman that would garner serious interest from the Avalanche would be Dustin Byfuglien. With the way Byfuglien has been playing and how valuable he is to the team, trading 'Big Buff' isn't something that would come on a whim.

Anybody else would have to be part of a package. If the Jets want to swing a deal for O'Reilly in the short term, they may have to throw in a future draft pick to sweeten the pot. For this reason, it is hard to believe a trade is imminent - this could change as bodies hear.

Habs Addict notes that Montreal has a glut of defensemen, but that any deal would have to make fiscal sense for the Canadiens from a cap perspective, but likes the fit:

A solid two-way forward who is known for his discipline and respect on the ice only collected 14 penalty minutes over the past three seasons (144 games). He would certainly help the Canadiens in that area as the team is known to take too many penalties.

The Avalanche and the Canadiens have been trade partners in the past when the teams swapped two problems before the season with Daniel Briere going to Colorado and P-A Parenteau coming to Montreal.

The keys to any O’Reilly deal would be (a) his salary and (b) if he’d stay with the acquiring team.

He makes $6 million against the cap next season, which is a hell of a baseline for his next contract. The guy who starred for the Avalanche last season probably deserves that wage on the open market; the guy this season, not so much. But again, his PDO for most of the year was low (it’s up to 99.1, still not great) so this year’s stats are deceiving.

End of the day, he can still be an elite two-way forward in this league. The question then becomes how much that ends up costing the team that wins the O’Reilly auction.