Count Ryan O’Reilly’s representation among those unaware that the coveted forward could have hit the waiver wire had his offer sheet from the Calgary Flames not been matched by the Colorado Avalanche Thursday.
O’Reilly’s agent, Pat Morris of Newport Sports Management, said Friday that he didn’t know his client would head to waivers if Colorado chose to not meet Flames GM Jay Feaster’s offer — a compelling twist to an already intriguing saga that was reported by Sportsnet.ca’s Chris Johnston earlier in the day.
“Certainly not, or I never would have put Jay or Calgary or any other team in that situation,” Morris told Jeff Marek and Greg Wyshynksi on the duo’s Marek vs. Wyshynksi podcast. “When you’re dealing with Europe, there’s some complicated situations.”
O’Reilly, who was a restricted free agent prior to his new two-year, $10-million deal with the Avalanche, had played two games in the Kontinental Hockey League after the NHL season began on Jan. 19.
According to the new collective bargaining agreement, free agents who join the NHL midseason must first pass through waivers unless the player is already on that club’s restricted list.
To Morris’s understanding, he said the rule is intended to prevent wealthy teams from stockpiling free agents from Europe without giving struggling clubs an opportunity to scoop them up.
“The CBA is a very complicated document,” said Morris, who has only seen the memorandum of understanding and not the full new CBA. “I can’t speak to Calgary’s knowledge of (the waiver rule) or not.”
Morris also said a number of other teams inquired about offer sheets for O’Reilly after Colorado’s “steep” asking price for the 22-year-old centreman failed to result in a trade.
“With an offer sheet, you try to structure it in such a way that you get the player,” said Morris, who had previously negotiated the unmatched Chris Gratton-to-Philadelphia offer sheet in 1997. Hence the hefty $6.5 million in Year 2 of the O’Reilly deal. That means O’Reilly’s next contract with Colorado must be worth at least $6.5 million annually to retain his rights. “Calgary believed in making it that they could get the player.”
Morris explained that talks had broken off with Colorado and that he was unsure whether the Avs would match.
“I didn’t know what Colorado’s feeling on Ryan O’Reilly was as recently as yesterday,” he said.
O’Reilly, who stayed sharp by practising with the OHL’s London Knights, could reportedly suit up for the Avalanche as early as Sunday.
“Days get long when you’re watching teammates play,” Morris said. “But he got through it.”