Report: Avs offer O’Reilly max pay decrease allowed in arbitration

Ryan O’Reilly is one of the best two-way players in the NHL, but the Colorado Avalanche aren’t willing to pay him at the level of a first-line center.

According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, O’Reilly is seeking a one-year deal worth $6.75 million in salary arbitration. Colorado is seeking to pay him just $5.525 million, which would be the maximum pay decrease allowable under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (15 percent less than his 2013-14 salary of $6.5 million).

The two sides have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday, where O’Reilly’s value will be intensely debated.

This isn’t the first time O’Reilly and the Avalanche have been unable to complete a contract. He was a restricted free agent following the 2012-13 lockout, and after failing to come to terms with Colorado, he signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames that was worth $10 million over two years. The Avalanche matched that offer sheet.

Fast forward to the present, and the Avalanche are once again playing hardball. It’s a strange route to take because it’s not a good way to establish goodwill with one of the team’s best and most valuable players.

O’Reilly set career highs of 64 points and 28 goals last season. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy and finished sixth in Frank J. Selke Trophy voting as the league’s best defensive forward.

After losing veteran center Paul Stastny in free agency earlier this month, the Avalanche would be wise to keep O’Reilly long-term, but that might not be possible at this stage of the relationship.


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