Ryan O’Reilly has been a factor for the Avs’ offense since his first year on the team. Luckily, O’Reilly has proven his worth this year after the whole contract debacle from the season before. The Avs really need to ink him to a long-term deal, seeing as he is leading the team in goals right now. After the end of this season, Factor will become a restricted free agent, and Adrian Dater (Denver Post) has already said they plan to talk about a contract after the season is over. Judging by the skill he brings to the table, there really is no reason to worry whether or not he gets re-signed. However, in the business of professional sports, you can never be too sure.
O’Reilly was drafted 33rd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. As everyone knows, that was the same year Matt Duchene was drafted. In my opinion, that turned out to be one of the best draft classes in recent years. Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliot were also drafted that year. O’Reilly ended up making the opening night roster for the Avalanche, and became the youngest player in Avalanche history to appear in a regular season game. He finished his rookie season with 8 goals and 18 assists. Not too bad for a young kid, eh? I believe this allowed him to mature a lot faster than other rookies, along with Duchene. To come in and be expected to produce for a team who was in a rebuild, has to be stressful on young players. Then we had the lockout shortened season, with the CBA feud in the NHL. Contract talks were put on hold then, and O’Reilly ended up going overseas to play in the KHL. O’Reilly eventually signed a 2-year offer sheet with the Flames for $10 million big ones! Luckily for us, the brass in the Avs’ front office matched the offer sheet, and Ryan stayed in the burgundy and blue.
A little over a year later now, a new head coach, and front office running the show, O’Reilly seems to be happier with his new role on the wing. Whether it’s with Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, or Nathan MacKinnon, he produces points, and makes things happen from almost anywhere on the ice. He currently has 48 points, splitting them in half with 24 goals and 24 assists. I have seen him crash the net, embarrass defenders, deliver crushing hits, score ridiculous goals, and he is doing it all with a toothless smile on his face. This kid deserves to be paid, and it only seems right with the talent the Avalanche have. Keep him in Colorado! I for one know the fans would be happy to see him stay.