Ryan O’Reilly’s name has been in the rumor mill since the beginning of the season and his history of contentious contract negotiations doesn’t help. One year away from unrestricted free agency, if the Avalanche can’t get the pivot to sign an extension, his name will remain there. Meanwhile, Winnipeg is looking at its options for netminder Ondrej Pavelec.
Despite considerable speculation this season over forward Ryan O'Reilly's future with the Colorado Avalanche, the 24-year-old was not among those on the move at the recent trade deadline. While he'll finish this season with the Avalanche, it remains to be seen how long he'll remain in Colorado.
O'Reilly's $6-million annual cap hit and eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July 2016 makes him a frequent subject for trade rumors. The Denver Post's Terry Frei praises O'Reilly as a well-respected and terrific two-way player who could be the final piece of the championship puzzle for an elite team but notes the decline in his production makes it difficult to justify his expensive salary.
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said his club intends to re-sign O'Reilly to a contract extension this summer. Doing so, however, won't be easy. The 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner could earn over $7 million per season on the open market in 2016, especially if his offensive stats improve. Even if O'Reilly's willing to re-sign for slightly more than his current salary it will take up a big chunk of the Avs' cap payroll.
If Sakic decides O'Reilly is too expensive to retain and puts him on the trade block, there will be considerable interest despite his free-agent status next year. The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington notes the Sabres have keen interest in the Avalanche forward, suggesting they offer up struggling prospect Mikhail Grigorenko as part of a package offer. Grigorenko played his junior hockey for Avalanche coach Patrick Roy in Quebec City.
Until the Avalanche get O'Reilly's signature on a new contract, he'll remain a hot topic for trade speculation.
JETS COULD LOOK AT BUYOUT FOR PAVELEC
Inconsistency has plagued goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's throughout his tenure with the Winnipeg Jets. Sometimes the 27-year-old netminder will give up a costly weak goal late in a game. A prime example of that occurred last week against the St. Louis Blues, when a center-ice shot from St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman fluttered past Pavelec for the game-winning goal.
Pavelec's gaffe prompted Winnipeg Sun columist Paul Friesen to ponder the netminder's future beyond this season. Having lost the starter's job for a time this season to backup Michael Hutchinson, it's unclear where Pavelec fits into their plans.
Trading him is one option, though Friesen cites an NHL executive claiming Pavelec's trade value is very low right now. They could buy out the remaining two years of his contract. Though Pavelec's annual cap hit is $3.9 million, Friesen points out he'll make $4.25 million in 2015-16 and $4.75 million in 2016-17. Their third option is keeping him, though it could make him an expensive backup for Hutchinson, who's earning $600,000.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hasn't been rewarded for his patience with Pavelec. It may be time to part ways this summer via trade or buyout. Trading him, however, could mean either packaging him with another player or picking up part of his remaining salary.
A buyout could be the best option. Though the Jets tend to be a budget team, buying out the remaining two years of Pavelec's contract will count as $1.15 million against their cap in 2015-16, $650K in 2016-17 followed by $1.5-million annually over the final two years.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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