The stalemate between the Colorado Avalanche and forward Ryan O’Reilly has gone on long enough, but that doesn’t mean that a deal is going to happen anytime soon.
O’Reilly, a restricted free agent, has yet to take the ice for the Avs this season and as Adrian Dater of The Denver Post reports, a deal seems unlikely:
The Avs’ contract offers to their leading scorer from last season remain two years at $7 million or five years at about $17 million. While the differences on a two-year deal are much closer than a five-year deal (O’Reilly wants in the neighborhood of $25 million on that one), the Avs appear to have drawn a line in the sand with their offers.
Dater goes on to report that as time goes on, it will become more and more likely that O’Reilly won’t play for Colorado anytime in the future, stating, "With no softening of the O’Reilly camp’s stance, that would seem to leave only two possibilities: a trade or an offer sheet from another team."
Obviously, the Avs would love to have O’Reilly on the ice as much as possible, but they aren’t willing to overpay for his services. Colorado feels its offers are more than reasonable while O’Reilly doesn’t necessarily agree. It just doesn’t seem like either side is going to give in at any point in the negotiations.
Trading or allowing O’Reilly to go elsewhere is the last thing Colorado needs. With Steve Downie out for the season with a torn ACL and captain Gabriel Landeskog out for the foreseeable future with a head injury, Colorado could use a forward that can put the puck in the net.
Dater tweeted a few days ago that as long as forward Michael Sgarbossa continues to impress, it may make it easier for Colorado to completely part ways with O’Reilly.
But for now, we continue to wait.
Matt Duchene Doesn’t Lose Faceoffs
Colorado hasn’t been that impressive in the faceoff circle this season, but forward Matt Duchene has been spectacular lately.
The Avs rank 14th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 50.3 percent through their first 10 games of the young season. Duchene is 108-of-204 this year going one-on-one in the circle, for a win percentage of 52.9, putting him in the top 40 in the league.
Colorado has gone 1-2 in its past three games, but faceoffs—when Duchene takes them—haven’t been the problem. He won 16 of 22 against the Anaheim Ducks, 15 of 20 against the Dallas Stars and 16 of 24 against the Edmonton Oilers.
In other words, compared to Duchene’s season average, he is winning about 20 percent more of the draws he takes.
Duchene will have a tough task the next time he takes the ice, going up against the Phoenix Coyotes. Antoine Vermette and Boyd Gordon each rank in the top 25 in faceoff win percentage this year while Phoenix as a team is just a few percentage points ahead of Colorado.
Semyon Varlamov Cooling Down
After a great start to the season, goalie Semyon Varlamov has quickly cooled off and is now in a bit of a slump.
Varlamov led the Avs to wins in two of the team’s first three games of 2013 but has gone 1-5 since then. In those first three games, Varlamov had a .949 save percentage. The last six times he’s taken the ice for Colorado, his save percentage has dropped around six percent to .884.
Varlamov’s teammate, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, has only played in two of Colorado’s games in 2013 and might get the start against the Coyotes, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. That assumption is based off of Varlamov’s workload lately and that he hasn’t played well at all.
Giguere is well-rested and could give Varlamov a much-needed night off. Phoenix is 4-4-2 this season, and the Avs are going to have to play their best game to top them and snap this skid of poorly played games.