|Ryan O'Reilly signed in the KHL without a deal reached in the NHL. (US Presswire)|
Ryan O'Reilly remains one of the three remaining restricted free agents without a contract right now, so it was a bit exciting for Avalanche fans to see O'Reilly was leaving the KHL and returning to North America. Especially after Steve Downie's ACL tear, the prospect of potentially getting O'Reilly back under contract was great for Avs fans.
Only it doesn't appear that he's returning from the KHL because a deal with the Avalanche is done or close to done. It turns out he suffered an injury, which has resulted in his release from the KHL's Mettalurg Magnitogorsk.
According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, O'Reilly appears to have a foot injury, but there's no word how serious the injury might be. Considering, though, that O'Reilly had a two-year contract in the KHL (with an out clause, mind you), perhaps it could be a bit more serious. Or it could be more about roster movement rules and the like.
Either way, it doesn't seem that this is about being close to a deal. At all.
Yes, Ryan O'Reilly is coming home from KHL. No, he is not any closer to deal with COL. There's been no progress. None.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 24, 2013
That's undoubtedly true (I wouldn't doubt McKenzie's reports at all), but it probably still bodes well for the Avalanche in the contract negotiations. Having O'Reilly stateside and not focusing on his KHL hockey certainly can't be a negative, and him having no team to play for might increase his sense of urgency.
Assuming O'Reilly isn't badly injured, you'd think the full-court press would be on to get O'Reilly signed and back on the ice for the Avalanche. He's a pretty important player to their lineup, having been their leading scorer last season and all.
O'Reilly had 18 goals and 37 assists last season, just his third in the NHL. The 33rd overall draft pick in 2009, O'Reilly will turn 22 on Feb. 7.