After 113 days, the NHL and NHLPA finally came to an agreement on a new CBA and all that's standing in the way of the puck finally being dropped is ratification from the players and the owners. This is a step that should be done by Friday or Saturday. That would make training camps ready to be opened by sometime this weekend and a 48 game season ready to be started on January 19th.
Now that we're back to work on the ice, the Avs still have some work to do with last season's top scorer and probably best all around player Ryan O'Reilly who is still without a contract and a restricted free agent. Before the lockout when other teams' GMs were spending like crazy, the Avs chose not to do the same with O'Reilly for whatever reason. As what appeared to be a sign of displeasure with the organization, O'Reilly accepted a TWO year offer from Magnitogorsk of the KHL. There was an opt out clause in the deal in the event the NHL settled their lockout so now O'Reilly's agent is set to get back in talks with Greg Sherman and Co. O'Reilly knows how important he is to the team and knows this kind of game could be his ticket out of Denver for good but their are a few reasons why that may not be the case.
Historically, the Avs have had a take it or leave it mentality when it comes to re-signing their own free agents. If the offer wasn't accepted or a player filed for arbitration, that player was usually shipped out (see: Laperierre, Drury). This summer, Jamie McGinn filed for arbitration and while many thought that would be the end of his days in Denver, the sides worked and got a new deal done for McGinn before arbitration. The fact that McGinn got away with filing for arbitration and not accepting the first offer from the club and was still able to get a new deal with the team was a sign that the Avs finally put their own egos aside and did what was best for the club.
Also, the line of O'Reilly, Landeskog and Downie was the most productive line for the team all season last year. On either side of the ice, these three were making things happen whether it be a big hit or a huge defensive play that ended in a last second overtime goal. At the beginning of the season, most teams would've looked at that line as a third line but by the end of the season, they were a top line. Any GM with even half a brain could see that this is the kind of line that needs to remain together.
The last lockout saw the Avs have to say goodbye to fan favorites, and franchise legends, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote due to salary cap constraints. This time around, there is no reason the team can't afford to hang onto such an important piece. As of right now, the Avs only have a little over $50 million in salary against a cap of $70.2 million for this season. Money cannot be an excuse after this lockout.
The Avalanche know exactly how important O'Reilly is to the team and especially the fans. All around the League, teams are thinking of ways to make this dumb lockout up to the fans. I can't see the Avs being any different. Sure it's a ballsy move by O'Reilly to force the Avs to make a higher offer than they may have originally wanted but the organization owes it to the fans and especially the very deserving O'Reilly..