NOTE: I was clearly wrong in here about stuff, cuz you know, contract signed, but much still remains the same. Thus, republishing with some edits...
Contract . . . Money . . . Arbitration . . . Character Bucks . . . Value . . . Comparables . . . AAV . . . QO . . . Hold Out
I'm so tired of hearing those words in the same sentences as Ryan O'Reilly. Hell, I'm tired of the name Ryan O'Reilly. Too many of our conversations in Avs nation since 2012 have revolved around this kid and dollar signs. I don't care who's "fault" it is; it's gone on too long. It's going to take some time free of worrying about Ryan O'Reilly and contracts for me to put aside these negative feelings.
Sadly, that freedom is a long way away. Even though he signed the 2-year, $12M deal, we're back at this again in two years unless a longer deal is struck, or he is traded.
And let's face it. The only way this will ever really end is if he's traded because, with each new contract negotiation window, we'll all be thinking, "Here we go again." I get that he's a good player, and he makes the team better. But you're wrong if you think people are just going to forget all about this shit if he scores a boat load of goals. Even with all the success he's had since the hold out, and as much as I've been able to celebrate him and be happy for him, the hold out never completely left my mind. A bit of the shine was gone. It was like finding out that your favorite band produced a shit record for the first time in their careers. You still love 'em, but that love is mixed with some disappointment now.
This time around, the contract saga has turned that favorite band into a bunch of Top-40 sell outs, so bad that every time you put on one of their songs from that first fucking amazing LP, you can't get that crap record out of your head. The most poisonous earworm ever. It would take O'Reilly signing a 6x6 deal for me to even begin to get this bad taste out of my mouth. That's not to say I won't stand up and dance around to that stupid goal celebration song every time O'Reilly scores a goal. But that jersey of his hanging in my closet will probably gain a bit of dust on it, even though it's a 37, harking back to the good old days.
Even though we just got a $6M deal, it's for two years. A 6x6 deal is never going to happen. Stop acting as if the Avs are being super cheap by not offering him that amount. They did, at least in money, and he signed it as a bridge deal. His agent made it clear that the discussion started at $6.5M. He's certainly going to want more than that once he hits FA. And no matter what you try to say, Ryan O'Reilly is not worth more than $6M per year right now. He's just not. Just stop with the lead the team in goals, takeaways!!, citizenship award bullshit and be real. O'Reilly is a very good hockey player. Great hockey players get upwards of $6M. He hasn't proven himself to be great just yet.
Let's also cut out the "but in 3 years $6.75 will be a steal for him" crap. What we've seen may be it for O'Reilly. Last season may be the indicator of all he can be, which is a very good winger benefiting from playing on a line with a great hockey player. What if that's all he ever is? What if he's put back to center with the departure of Paul Stastny, playing that defensive two-way center we now need, and he goes back to third-line center numbers? Is he still worth $6.75M?
That's why you pay on what has been accomplished, not what you think might be. O'Reilly has shown us in one & a half seasons that he is a difference maker that is worth $6M. He needs some consistency to prove he's worth more than that, and that doesn't come without more seasons of team-leading numbers and performance. We'll see if, when this deal is over, he's worth that $6.75M.
Players don't live in a vacuum. This contract shit will affect the locker room. Yes, these are pros who will put that shit aside on the ice, but the locker room isn't the ice. How could Landeskog and Duchene not look at what O'Reilly's doing and shake their heads. Guaranteed these guys are having some conversations about it among themselves, and while someone might take the high road and say, "It's just business," you have to believe others are looking at each other in that knowing way, saying "Yeah" under their breaths.
I loved O'Reilly. He embodied everything I wanted in a player on my team. He was dedicated, talented, always striving to get better, and he invested his heart and soul into the game. But that was when he was a second round pick. That was when he wore #37. As soon as people took notice that he was a second round steal—as soon as he turned in the number he was handed at training camp—he developed an over-inflated sense of self worth. After the hold out and his money kicked in, he went from rink rat who played for the love of the game to the guy that will forego playing the game until somebody shows him the money. And more than anything—more than the frustration or annoyance or anger—it makes me sad. He's no longer my favorite forward on the team. He never will be again. He'll just never be Radar to me anymore.