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Ryan O’Reilly signs two-year deal with a Russian team

Our friends over at Eurolanche have broken yet another piece of significant Avalanche-related news: Ryan O’Reilly has signed a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), per David Puchovsky of Eurolanche.

Why did we bold “two-year”? That’s the obviously interesting component in all of this. O’Reilly’s contract is through the 2013-14 KHL season, which means that O’Reilly will be swigging vodka and eating caviar for the next two years, with or without a return from the lockout. But, of course, O’Reilly does have an out in his contract:

“It has been agreed by mutual consent that if Ryan is offered a contract on more lucrative terms in the National Hockey League, Metallurg will not interfere in that contract being concluded.”

Wow.

So, this clearly looks like an interesting game of cat-and-mouse developing between the Avs and one of their bright young stars. After it looked like O’Reilly was set to ink a new deal with the Avalanche over the summer (he’s a restricted free agent), both sides quietly didn’t strike a deal before the NHL lockout officially started in September. And O’Reilly’s pretty clearly peeved about it; he’s essentially blackmailing the Avalanche and/or another NHL team into giving him more dough by signing with another Russian team, and making the only out clause (that we know of) being that he has to get more money than his current deal.

The 21-year-old O’Reilly enjoyed a breakout 2011-12, recording 18 goals and 55 points while establishing himself as the Avs’ best two-way player. The Avalanche want to make him one of their franchise cornerstones moving forward, but this could lead to at least a temporary souring of relations between the two sides, at least for now.

Chances are, this whole thing will be figured out. The Avalanche will pay up, O’Reilly will sober up from his vodka-cation (FYI: We’re just poking fun at Russian culture, not trying to start any rumors about O’Reilly), and the world will keep on spinning.

But now, there’s an interesting new wrinkle being thrown in all of this. And it could lead to a strained relationship between O’Reilly and the Avs, or worst case, O’Reilly learning Russian and playing overseas while the Avalanche stay cheap and don’t pay up.

Stay tuned, folks. Things could be getting interesting for Ryan O’Reilly in the coming weeks, when or if the NHL returns.

Give credit to the guys over at Eurolanche for breaking this. A great resource for all Avalanche fans.

For more Avalanche news, click here.

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