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Lightning has interest in Av's O'Reilly

Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is an unsigned restricted free agent drawing trade interest from several teams.

Getty Images (2012)

Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is an unsigned restricted free agent drawing trade interest from several teams.

Of course the Lightning has contacted the Avalanche about Ryan O'Reilly.

As a general manager has said about his fellow GMs, when an enticing asset comes on the market, "We're like rats on a piece of cheese."

So, yes, there has been at least one phone call.

It's been reported O'Reilly is getting much interest from Eastern Conference teams. That makes sense; the last thing Colorado wants is O'Reilly coming back to haunt it in the West.

And wouldn't the 22-year-old center, coming off a breakout 2011-12 with 18 goals and 55 points, look good in Lightning blue?

The problem for Tampa Bay is not what O'Reilly, the league's last unsigned restricted free agent, wants in a contract — perhaps as high as $5 million a season, it has been speculated — but that the team doesn't have the assets to send back in return.

Think about it.

The Avalanche seems willing to trade a young, productive, everyday player. It makes sense Colorado would want one of those in return in addition to a prospect.

Prospects and draft picks the Lightning has. Young, established players, not so much once you get past center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman, and those two aren't going anywhere.

O'Reilly, 6 feet, 200 pounds, would fit in nicely with a Tampa Bay team that is building for the future and wants to inject fresh legs and youth into the lineup.

The Clinton, Ontario, native last season averaged 19:31 of ice time and won 52.8 percent of his faceoffs. He also had a league-best 101 takeaways and only 34 giveaways.

There is a thought the Avalanche and O'Reilly will eventually come to a deal. But as Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported, the sides have become entrenched, and perhaps some bad blood is developing. O'Reilly's father, Brian, on his Twitter feed has taken shots at the Avalanche.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, being his usual closed-mouth self, declined to talk about O'Reilly, but it makes sense he will monitor the situation. If O'Reilly still is available at the April 3 trade deadline and the Avalanche is out of playoff contention, perhaps the acquisition equation changes.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Lightning has interest in Av's O'Reilly 02/16/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 5:08pm]
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