Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche don't talk about this stuff. A request for comment was politely declined. The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reported O'Reilly turned down a five-year, $17-million offer last summer. Colorado pulled that proposal and came up with two years for $7 million, which went nowhere.
Colorado's reputation is the organization can be very tough negotiators. It was among the NHL's highest-paying teams during its glory years, but the last three seasons have seen it among the lowest.
O'Reilly remains in Russia, although he missed a game last weekend with a foot injury. His situation reminds me a lot of Michael Peca's in Buffalo. O'Reilly likely won't ever be a 100-point scorer. He had 55 points last season, more than his first two years combined, but he is a fierce, fierce competitor who can do a lot of critical things for you. He took more defensive-zone faceoffs than any other Avalanche player and faced the toughest competition among the team's centres (credit: behindthenet.ca).
The problem is that leads to major disputes between teams and agents over exactly how to financially quantify those things. Peca, for example, was traded because he and the Buffalo Sabres could not agree.
"He's definitely a No. 2 centre," one GM said of O'Reilly. "And with the proper wingers, he could be a No. 1 guy."
Those guys get paid well, especially if they can score. But again, O'Reilly is four years from unrestricted free agency.
The Avalanche operate in secrecy, so it's hard to predict what they are going to do. When they dealt Chris Stewart, many other teams didn't know he was even available. Barring a major change in philosophy from either side, this one could be heading in that direction.
I'm a big O'Reilly fan. There isn't a potentially available center in the league who would fill Kesler's role better. And when Kes is back, Sedin-Kesler-O'Reilly-Lapierre would be the best center corps in the league. And unlike the other 3, O'Reilly is likely to only get better over the next few years.
This would also provide us some insurance against the terrible possibility that Kesler may not be the same player when he comes back. Or, even if he is, he runs into more injury trouble. Having a guy like O'Reilly gives us flexibility, and makes cutting Kesler's minutes and responsibilities far more palatable.
But the question is, if the Avs do decide to trade him, do we have the pieces to get a deal done? I'm leaning towards no. I doubt MG would move Kassian, and Edler isn't going to be traded with his new deal. Would Tanev and Schroeder be enough? Probably not.
Another question may be, would they risk dealing him to a divisional opponent? Avs have dealt with Calgary in the past, so maybe that's not such a big deal.