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The (Lazy?) Elephant in the Room

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With the Avalanche on the outside looking in early in the season, many fans are already looking ahead to some of the crucial roster decisions the club will face down the road. No. 1 on that list is Ryan O'Reilly.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Not one, but two arbitration situations before age 23 does not bode well for Ryan O'Reilly’s long-term future in Denver. A lot of people have accused Radar of mailing it in and not giving 100 percent effort – which is a big part of his game – this season. I'm not going to even try to defend this argument; it may be true but I highly doubt us as fans can infer something like that.

The bigger question is: What is O'Reilly's future with the team? The chances are pretty low that he will wear the Avs sweater in five years, but there is plenty of debate as to when he should leave the club between now and the end of his two-year, $12 million contract he signed at the midnight hour last year.

First lets have a quick look at O'Reilly stats and figure out what is his true value, courtesy of the always awesome stats.hockeyanalysis.com

Overall

Season(s) TOI FF60 FA60 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO TMFF60 TMFA60 TMFF% OppFF60 OppFA60 OppFF%
2014-15
199:08
40.38
46.40
46.5
5.22
91.56
96.8
41.63
50.81
45.0
44.19
41.86
51.3
2013-14
1020:38
44.56
48.68
47.8
6.46
93.48
99.9
42.38
46.43
47.7
42.85
41.80
50.6
2012-13
355:38
45.22
35.26
56.2
5.60
93.30
98.9
41.53
45.10
47.9
41.01
40.41
50.4
2011-12
1026:14
48.41
40.28
54.6
4.71
94.92
99.6
43.13
43.37
49.9
42.55
42.00
50.3
2010-11
795:02
41.28
41.81
49.7
4.20
94.04
98.2
40.41
45.50
47.0
42.53
42.58
50.0
2009-10
916:08
36.94
44.73
45.2
5.32
95.02
100.3
37.48
44.82
45.5
42.19
42.55
49.8

5-on-5 Close stats

Season(s) TOI G A First A Points Shots iFenwick iCorsi Sh% G/60 A/60 FirstA/60 Points/60 Shots/60 iFenwick/60 iCorsi/60 IGP IAP IPP
2014-15
161:14
1
3
2
4
22
24
28
4.55
0.37
1.12
0.74
1.49
8.19
8.93
10.42
16.7
50.0
66.7
2013-14
735:36
15
10
4
25
85
110
148
10.14
1.22
0.82
0.33
2.04
6.93
8.97
12.07
41.7
27.8
69.5
2012-13
240:15
2
6
1
8
19
24
36
5.56
0.50
1.50
0.25
2.00
4.75
5.99
8.99
22.2
66.7
88.9
2011-12
737:44
4
15
11
19
84
106
134
2.99
0.33
1.22
0.89
1.55
6.83
8.62
10.90
15.4
57.7
73.1
2010-11
555:37
4
5
2
9
63
76
89
4.49
0.43
0.54
0.22
0.97
6.80
8.21
9.61
30.8
38.5
69.2
2009-10
595:16
3
8
2
11
57
69
91
3.30
0.30
0.81
0.20
1.11
5.75
6.95
9.17
14.3
38.1
52.4

There are plenty of numbers on this page, but the one I find the most interesting is 10.14. That was O'Reilly's 5-on-5 close shooting percentage last year (15 goals 10 assists).  Given his career numbers until that point (and this year), that seems unsustainable O'Reilly is probably closer to his 2011-2012 season than last year offensively, and I feel that's important in evaluating his worth to the franchise going forward.

It's pretty obvious what the Avalanche should be looking for in any trade scenario. With Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and a bunch of replacement level defenders manning the blue line, an upgrade is imperative. During the game last night against the Rangers, I realized how much of a fit the two teams could be as trade partners. Who would say no to an O'Reilly for Marc Staal deal? Anyways, let's take a look at all of the options available.

Trade O'Reilly before this year's trade deadline

This option is possible, but very tricky and it sort of limits Colorado's options. This list of possibilities would be restricted to Stanley Cup hopefuls, and even then those teams are going to be unwilling to part with any immediate contributors. In this scenario, it would most likely be a prospects and first round pick sorta deal here. Not the worst case considering the team won't be serious players for another year or two, but maybe not the best one for the team.

Trade O'Reilly after this season

I think this is the winner. While he will be an expiring contract at this point, it leaves every team in play to make a deal. For contenders, O'Reilly could make the difference. For struggling teams needing to make a splash, he's the type of player to give a contract to. Take a team like Columbus. Could O'Reilly net us Ryan Murray? Maybe not, but it's that sort of deal the team should explore. Or Arizona. Can Radar get us Keith Yandle? A first line (or elite second line) defender would do wonders for this team.

Trade O'Reilly before next year's trade deadline

This is where it gets desperate. Teams are not going to part with anything significant if it is a rental, and they are going to view the trade as such considering how difficult O'Reilly has been in past negotiations. The chances a team trades for him and is able to lock him up are very small. I would honestly imagine the best deal the Avalanche would get in this scenario would be a medium prospect and a couple draft picks.

Attempt to resign O'Reilly on a longterm deal

I think this one is out to pasture, but it's still possible. He's probably the second best defenseman on the team (despite, you know, not actually playing defense) and losing him for nothing would be disastrous. But the team is so bad as it is how much worse could it get? Is he worth Stastny money? He will definitely get it in the open market because he's so young, but with the Avalanche's salary structure and other needs it just wouldn’t make sense for the team to lock him up to that type of deal.

If the Avs are picking in the top five next year, I would much rather take another elite forward (preferably one that possesses the darn puck) and trade O'Reilly for a defenseman. It takes longer for drafted defensemen to reach the big leagues, and there is a lower bust rate among forwards.

I am in the very small minority here, but I strongly believed that the Avalanche should have explored trading Paul Stastny at last year's trade deadline. Regardless of how the season went, couldn’t they have dealt him for an asset that would have remained with the club in the future? If they were unable to lock up Stastny long term, they must have assumed a massive bidding war would ensue once he became a free agent. I bring this up only to point out that Avalanche management cannot make the same mistake twice. If O'Reilly walks at the end of his contract and the team has nothing to show for it, a once promising core could be obliterated by mismanagement.

I turn it over to the readers. What option is best?