NHL Colorado Avalanche

Will Addition Of Ryan O’Reilly Make A Big Difference For Avalanche?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It was a long and brutal struggle for the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly.

It didn’t look like the two would be able to ever come to an agreement and that O’Reilly would eventually be shipped out. After all, he went over a month into the regular season without agreeing to a new deal, as a restricted free agent. Thank goodness the Calgary Flames decided to gamble with the offer sheet.

The Avs matched the two-year, $10 million offer sheet that O’Reilly signed with the Flames and he returned to the lineup on Sunday night. There’s no doubt that having a player with the upside of O’Reilly in the lineup should prove beneficial. But with the Avs struggling as mightily as they are, will he make that big a difference?

This is an Avalanche team in the bottom 10 in goals per game, goals against per game, power play, and penalty kill. The special teams are absolutely putrid. Will putting O’Reilly back into the lineup make that much of a difference?

O’Reilly’s return to the lineup on Sunday wasn’t terrific, by any stretch of the imagination. He logged a decent amount of minutes and played roughly half of the team’s time on the power play. His lone highlight of the night was an own goal scored when the Avs were attempting to kill a 5-on-3.

There’s no doubt that adding O’Reilly back into the mix should prove to be a positive thing. He has the potential to be a top flight center and had a career year last year, with 55 points in 81 games. But this is a team with multiple issues right now. How much of an impact will he actually be able to make?

One would have to imagine that adding O’Reilly to the lineup will help the Avalanche find their offensive game a bit, and improve on the man advantage. But this is an Avs team with quite a few issues. Adding O’Reilly to the lineup makes them better, but it still doesn’t get them much closer to making a run at a potential playoff spot.