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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Rumblings: O'Reilly sticking with the Avs

By Pierre LeBrun


Not that anyone really expected Ryan O'Reilly to be dealt before Wednesday's trade deadline, but Colorado Avalanche executive Joe Sakic confirmed that certainly wasn't in the cards at this point.

"Ryan is with us and he's going to be with us," Sakic told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "He's a great hockey player. We've agreed to work on a contract in the summer, both sides."

Said O'Reilly's agent, the veteran Pat Morris of Newport Sports, on Tuesday: "Ryan O'Reilly enjoys Colorado immensely; it's a strong, young team, we'll leave the business until the summertime."

That's when the decision on O'Reilly will really come, when he's due a $6.5 million qualifying offer in the summer. But no doubt the Avs would like to work something out long-term for less than that per season to keep their terrific two-way forward around.

In the meantime, Sakic said the Avs have a plan in place for the trade deadline.

"We'll see what unfolds tomorrow," said the Avs’ executive vice president of hockey operations. "Are we looking to upgrade? I think everyone, if they can, is looking to upgrade. But we're pretty content with what we've got here right now. If something that makes sense that's going to help us, not just this year but for the next 2-3 years, then that's something we might look at."

In other words, the Avs probably won't be players on the rental market.

"Not likely to make a rental deal, no," Sakic said. "We're not in that position. If there's a hockey deal that makes sense and makes us a better team, for sure we’d look to do that."

Although they do have a rental of their own that would interest some teams in center Paul Stastny, a pending UFA. On the other hand, Stastny has been a huge part of the team's success this season. A source told ESPN.com that the two sides are expected to talk Tuesday night.

"He's been great for us," Sakic said. "And great in the dressing room. He's like everyone here, we don't want to make a move unless it makes sense down the line. He's included in that."

Sakic certainly stopped short of saying he's not moving Stastny and that's because he can't really say that at this point. If a team offers up a top-four blueliner in return for Stastny, as good as he's been this season, it might be hard to pass up.

Mind you, that blue line that many of us hammered as Colorado's Achilles' heel before the season has held up quite nicely, which in a way has alleviated pressure on the Avs to add a piece there at all costs before Wednesday.

I still think if the Avs do anything, it will be to improve on defense, but it's not as urgent as it might have looked a few months ago.

"Going into the season, was it a question mark? Yes, we're not going to lie about that," Sakic said of his blue-line corps. "But the guys have played well. E.J. [Erik Johnson] has stepped it up and has become the player we all expected, and he's expected of himself, he’s had a tremendous year. Tyson [Barrie] has picked it up, Nick Holden has played well ... really, our blue line as a unit has done a tremendous job this year. Now, if people are looking at our blue line, I believe our blue line as a unit has earned the respect of being a pretty good group."