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O'Reilly likely to play for Avalanche on Sunday

by Staff

Ryan O'Reilly appears set to make his season debut for the Colorado Avalanche.

O'Reilly skated with the Avalanche at practice Saturday, two days after the team matched the offer sheet he signed with the Calgary Flames, and the Denver Post reports he will play Sunday at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Hopefully I can contribute as best I can," O'Reilly said after practice. "It will probably take a while to get back in the swing of things, just find the chemistry, to catch up to the speed of the game. ...

"I feel good, I'm skating as hard as I can, I feel healthy. I'm just hungry, I can't wait to be playing hockey again."

O'Reilly has not played in the NHL this season, sitting out as a restricted free agent while trying to come to contract terms with Colorado. He signed an offer sheet Thursday with the Flames, reportedly worth $10 million over two years, and the Avalanche matched within hours.

"I can't believe how nice everyone has been about it, how great they've been to just accept me back" O'Reilly said. "It's like I haven't left. It just shows the character of this team, just so many great guys, and I'm so thankful that they welcomed me back in."

O'Reilly centered a line with John Mitchell and Milan Hejduk, according to a tweet from Denver Post beat writer Adrian Dater.

"I'm excited. Obviously, I've played with Hejduk before, and he's a great player," O'Reilly said. "Just to be on a line with him definitely is very exciting. And Mitchell has been playing great this year. It'll be good; I think we've got a little bit of everything on that line, and that's just what we need."

O'Reilly was in Ontario, where he said he had been skating with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He made his way to Denver on Friday.

"It was busy, that's for sure," O'Reilly said. "I had to fly out really early, and I got in here, and just right away went to sign the contract, which was nice -- then went over, had my medicals, was cleared to play, and then from there just playing it out, getting ready to go."

Dater also reported that veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has left the team due to the death of his mother. Giguere is expected to rejoin the team for Tuesday's game at the Detroit Red Wings.

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