As of this writing, there's be no movement on the Ryan O`Reilly / Colorado Avalanche contract dispute, but with the recent signing of Jamie Benn, and Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban agreeing yesterday to a 2-year deal (rumored at $2 million in year 1 and $3.75 in year 2), Ryan O'Reilly remains the only big name RFA left dangling in the wind.
Subban led his team's blueline in points last season, and back in August was offered a similar contract ($5.5 mill at 2.3 in yr 1 and 2.9 in yr 2) to the one he ended up signing Monday. So what did holding out ultimately get Subban? An additional $250,000. Subban's bargaining power had diminished somewhat with Montreal's surprisingly strong play without him (3-1), coupled with the similar signing of the New York Rangers' defenseman Michael Del Zotto - a comparable player to Subban. Del Zotto also led his team's D-corps in points, with 41 last season, and settled for a reasonable 2 yrs at 5.1 million.
Jamie Benn was second on his team in scoring with 67 points in 71 games, and like all the above, held out. But Benn alone succeeded in netting a large payday with a 5-year $26.25 million dollar contract. Benn is a young (23), legitimate 1st-line center with top-tier talent. By comparison, Ryan O`Reilly enjoyed one solid offensive year and three impressive defensive seasons, yet his ceiling is much less predictable or reliable than Benn's. O`Reilly averaged .68 ppg last season compared to Benn's .89 ppg.
So with three of the four major RFA holdouts coming to terms with their clubs, and all but Benn settling for shorter deals and less money, what can Ryan O'Reilly expect from Greg Sherman at this point? To make certain that dead horse is dead; the Avs are notoriously frugal, and Sherman himself comes from a stingy accounting background, so the idea of the Avs caving is unlikely. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is in his first year, and yet had the balls to stick to his guns and not cave to Subban's wishes - despite the rabid Montreal fanbase screaming for Subban's return. Perhaps the biggest factor in re-signing Factor will be the Avs' play on the ice. However, the Rangers were not yet playing when they signed Del Zotto for reasonable funds, and Dallas was getting along averagely without Benn, so perhaps the argument of team's play is moot. But the Avs' Penalty Kill these past two games has been their undoing, and O`Reilly's absence only highlights that seething blemish. Throw in some more injuries and one might wonder if all this ugliness combined could force Sherman's hand.
As we look around the league, RFAs and their clubs are tempering their tantrums and coming together. Hopefully that momentum continues, sweeping through Denver and returning Radar back in Burgundy and Blue (or even Frostbite Blue) very soon.
Subban's contract info stolen from Puck Daddy who got it from Louis Jean of TVA.