Joe Sakic on Ryan O'Reilly's deal: 'He's a very valuable player to us and we want him long term'
The Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O'Reilly's camp waited until the 11th hour before coming to their senses and reaching an accord on a two-year contract worth $12 million. The buzzer-beating deal allowed both sides to avoid going through with their scheduled club-elected salary arbitration hearing on Wednesday morning in Toronto.
"We were right outside the door, ready to do this," Colorado Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic told Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.
"When we shook hands, I think we were both very happy I know the Colorado Avalanche is very happy," Sakic said. "He's a very valuable player to us and we want him long term. That (type of contract) hasn't happened yet, but we'll keep working at it and see what happens."
On the subject of perceived rancor between the two sides in this particular negotiation, Sakic characterized that as media-generated and speculative.
"There was never any animosity between us this whole time," said Sakic of the negotiations between the Avalanche and O'Reilly. "Any of the perceived animosity came from the outside."
At least some of that perceived animosity comes from comments made by O'Reilly's agent Pat Morris of Newport Sports Agency during this process. Or Joe Sakic's somewhat testy public response to those comments.
Also comments made by O'Reilly's father during the last round of negotiations a couple of years ago. Or perhaps that perception stems from O'Reilly's having signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames in 2013...
Perception is an afterthought for the moment, because this saga is over. At least for a couple of years.
Picking through the rubble, it seems like a win in the short term for the Avalanche, who locked up O'Reilly for two more seasons at a salary figure that is lower than what O'Reilly took home in actual salary for the 2013-14 NHL season.
In the long term though, O'Reilly could be the big beneficiary of this two-year deal. The 23-year-old center led the Avalanche in scoring a year ago and took home a major NHL award (the Lady Byng), and with this new two-year contract is poised to hit unrestricted free agency at the age of 25. O'Reilly seems likely to be the most heavily sought after player on the open market in the summer of 2016, barring a lucrative extension before then.