Avs match offer sheet for O’Reilly

Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche were unable to reach a deal for more than a month.

A few hours after he signed an offer sheet with Calgary, the restricted free agent was back with the Avalanche.

The Flames announced earlier Thursday that they had signed O’Reilly to a multiyear offer sheet. Colorado had a week to match it, but did so by the end of the day.

The team announced the decision during the first period of Thursday night’s game against Calgary.

”This was a goal of ours from the outset, to get Ryan signed,” Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman said. ”That goal has never changed. Sometimes the process takes a little longer than you would expect or want, but he’s staying with the Colorado Avalanche.”

Sherman said the speed with which Colorado matched the offer showed its commitment to O’Reilly.

”Given the timeframe we moved on this, it’s clear what our object was,” Sherman said. ”We moved very quickly and efficiently to make a decision to match the offer.”

TSN in Canada reported the deal is worth $10 million over two years, which includes a $2 million signing bonus.

O’Reilly will travel to Denver for a physical and if everything checks out, he will join the Avalanche on their three-game road trip starting Sunday in Columbus.

Had Colorado not matched the offer it would have received Calgary’s first- and third-round picks in the NHL draft. By retaining O’Reilly, the Avalanche cannot trade the forward for a year from Thursday.

Sherman said Calgary’s decision to try to sign one of Colorado’s restricted free agents was strictly business.

”It’s their right within the CBA to put that offer sheet forward and we have our rights within the CBA to match it,” Sherman said. ”If that’s the way they want to do their business, that’s their right. The fact that we received the offer the day of the game, against them, that’s their prerogative. That’s their business.”

The 22-year-old O’Reilly has not played this season while trying to work out a contract with Colorado. He was the team’s leading scorer last season with 55 points.

O’Reilly was the 33rd pick in the 2009 draft. In three NHL seasons he has 39 goals and 69 assists in 236 career games.