When the Colorado Avalanche quickly matched Calgary's offer sheet to Ryan O'Reilly on Thursday, they actually helped prevent a potentially costly situation for the Flames.
Calgary signed the 22-year-old center to a two-year $10 million offer sheet Thursday afternoon, and by evening the Avalanche had matched. As Chris Johnston of Rogers SportsNet first reported Friday morning, had the Avalanche not matched, the Flames would have yielded first- and third-round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft and O'Reilly would have had to be put on waivers.
Because O'Reilly played two games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League after the NHL season started, he would have been subject to the same provision that allowed the New York Islanders to claim Evgeni Nabokov after he signed a contract with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2009-10 season.
"Prior to tendering the offer sheet for Ryan O'Reilly we, as a hockey operations department, examined whether there were any impediments to our successfully securing the services of the player including, but not limited to, his having played in the KHL after the start of the current NHL season," Calgary general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement.
"Our interpretation of the Article 13 transition rules governing restricted free agents ("RFA"), and the applicability of Article 13.23 under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to such RFA's was, and continues to be, different than the NHL's current interpretation as articulated to us this morning. Moreover, throughout our discussions, the player’s representative shared our interpretation and position with respect to the non-applicability of Article 13.23.
"While we were prepared to advance our position with the NHL, in light of Colorado's having matched the offer sheet it is now an academic point. As such, we will have no further comment on the matter, the player, or the offer sheet process."