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O'Reilly hopes to remain with Avalanche

by Dan Rosen

LAS VEGAS -- Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly wants to play for one team next season. It's the same team he played for last season, the only team he has ever played for in the NHL.

"There's no question that I want to be in Colorado next year and try to win [there]," O'Reilly said Monday during Media Day for the 2014 NHL Awards. "My agent knows that."

He needs a new contract if he wants to play for the Avalanche again. It's already shaping up as a testy negotiation, even though coach Patrick Roy said Monday there is no bitterness between the club, including president of hockey operations Joe Sakic, and O'Reilly.

"No, and I'll explain to you why, because Joe and I were players and we also had to be businessmen," Roy said. "At this time of the year, it's no different for other teams. It's an unpleasant time. It's a negotiation. Ryan has to do what he thinks is the best. Obviously as a team you always wish the players are buying into your structure and buying into your plan. Joe has been doing a super job. Joe is the one who is dealing with the contracts, but from a coach's perspective, I don't see it as a problem. If you know Ryan O'Reilly, you know he's going to jump on the ice and he's going to play his minutes, whatever I give him. Everybody knows how much I love him and how much respect I have for him. I think Ryan is going to come in and play hard for us and it won't be an issue."

It might be, though, because there is a chance that the negotiation between O'Reilly and the Avalanche instead turns into a case in front of a third-party arbitrator.

The Avalanche have already filed for team-elected salary arbitration against O'Reilly, ensuring that they retain his rights. If they can't agree to a new contract, a third-party arbitrator will settle the case for them on a pre-scheduled date.

The other way to retain O'Reilly's rights would have been to give him a qualifying offer, but it would have had to at least equal his salary from the 2013-14 season, which was $6.5 million. The Avalanche were clearly not prepared to do that.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if the case goes to arbitration O'Reilly can elect his term, either a one-year contract or a two-year contract, and he would make at least 85 percent of his previous salary, which ensures that he will get at least $5.525 million in his next contract.

O'Reilly can still sign a contract offer sheet from another team from July 1-5, but the Avalanche have the ability to match it. That's how they kept him last time.

The Calgary Flames signed O'Reilly to a two-year, $10 million offer sheet more than a month into the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. The Avalanche quickly matched it.

"I have full confidence in my agent for getting things sorted out," O'Reilly said. "All I control is really preparing for next year and letting the business side play out. When it's over, it's over."

O'Reilly said he's not angry or bitter about the Avalanche filing for club-elected arbitration against him.

"I don't know if it's so much anger, it's a little frustration I think on both sides," he said. "Obviously it's in the CBA and they have every right to, and it's a smart move by them, but all in all something will be worked out."

Roy indicated that the Avalanche are hoping to re-sign center Paul Stastny, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Roy said his plan is to have Stastny back centering Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

"It's our objective to have those three playing together," he said.

If it doesn't work out, MacKinnon could move to center, his natural position. Roy was hesitant when he was asked about that Monday.

"There's a lot of ifs and it's maybe too early to talk about if he's going to be a center or right winger," Roy said. "But I know [Landeskog, Stastny and MacKinnon] played outstanding together last year."


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