|Ryan O'Reilly signed a two-year deal to play in the KHL, but he can leave if he gets a better offer in the NHL. (U.S. Presswire)|
Whenever the NHL lockout finally comes to an end, whether it's this year (we can only hope) or next year (God help us), Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly is going to be one of the top restricted free agents without a contract in the NHL.
What he does have right now is a two-year contract to play in the KHL after agreeing to terms with Metallurg Magnitogorsk on Friday.
He's not the first NHL player to sign in Europe during the lockout, but he is the first one to sign a multiyear deal that could keep him over there after the lockout ends. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to the team the contract has an interesting twist. If an NHL team (like, say, the Colorado Avalanche) comes to O'Reilly with a better contract offer they will not stand in his way if he choses to return to the NHL.
The team said in a statement, via Russian news site RIA Novosti, that, "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."
So, if nothing else, it might give O'Reilly a little more negotiating leverage with the Avalanche (he reportedly wanted a five-year deal while the Avalanche were only willing to go three) when it comes to working out a new deal. But it's really hard to imagine him not being with the Avalanche once this lockout madness reaches its conclusion.
The 21-year-old O'Reilly was Colorado's leading scorer this past season with 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 81 games.
The former second-round pick (No. 39 overall in 2009) has scored 39 goals to go with 68 assists over the first three years of his career.
His older brother, Cal O'Reilly, also plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk.