NHL Rumors: Was Ryan O’Reilly Snubbed as Avalanche Captain?

Ryan O’Reilly (right) with J.S. Giguere and Shane O’Brien (back). Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Last month, Gabriel Landeskog made NHL history when he was named the youngest captain in league history and just the fourth captain in the team history of the Colorado Avalanche. He’s been very active in attending NHLPA meetings recently, probably because he would like for there to be a season so he can wear the C on the ice and actually do his job.

But was his teammate, Ryan O’Reilly, considered for the gig? Furthermore, was he ultimately passed up because of a contract dispute?

O’Reilly had a career-best kind of year last season, putting up 18 goals and 37 assists for 55 points, a huge improvement over his 26-point 2010-11 season. However, in July he officially became a restricted free agent after his three-year entry-level contract expired. He has not yet been signed to a new deal.

Considering that other peers (see also Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner) have shed their entry-level deals in favor of more lucrative deals for about five years or more, O’Reilly is probably angling for something similar.

It is possible that an alternate position could be given to O’Reilly in the future–but that depends on the resolution of this contract disagreement. He could join Milan Hedjuk, the outgoing captain, as the Avalanche’s other alternate.

“That’s something I’m hoping management, Ryan and his people that are taking care of his business, will get situated. I don’t have any control over that right now. I’m hoping they can get it settled, and if and when they do, that’s something we’ll talk about,” coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post.

“We all know what O’Reilly means to this team. We all know how important he is for our success…We just hope things get settled, but that’s between Ryan and the club,” Landeskog added, already displaying some of those diplomacy skills he will need as captain.

It’s possible O’Reilly could sign on to an 11th hour contract extension like the ones given to John Carlson and Kari Lehtonen today, but if that doesn’t happen, this contract dispute could drag on longer as another, larger dispute eclipses it.

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