Chris Jonhston of Sportsnet is claiming that had the Flames signed Ryan O’Reilly to a contract the young center would have had to clear waivers this year to play for the club. Meaning Calgary could have lost a first, a third, and then the player himself to a waiver claim.
This strikes me as implausible. First, because the rule should apply to both teams, not simply the Flames. Ryan O’Reilly signed the same contract with the Avs as he did with the Flames and was a free agent. Why would he have to clear only for the Flames? In addition, I can’t see the Flames missing this in their due diligence. I also recall mention previously when we were discussing Karri Ramo that the current CBA erased this provision when it comes to RFA players.
In short, I doubt there’s a story here.
UPDATE – according to TSN and Bob MacKenzie, the rule would likely have been interpreted against the Flames, meaning O’Reilly would have been exposed to waivers. I think Calgary would have had an argument in any subsequent greivance, but it’s likely it could have been a terrible blow to the franchise had the Avs chosen to wallk away.
All of this rests on a clause depending on the player playing after the NHL season started. So, for instance, had the Flames sent an offer sheet to O’Reilly on Jan 15th when I originally wrote about the topic, this would have been moot.
I suppose it’s moot now because Colorado matched the offer, but it seems Calgary dodged a giant bullet. It will be interesting to see if there’s any fall-out for the decision-makers as a result. I assume "no" because no actual harm came to the organization, but I guess we’ll see.
It’s tough to see what was a bold, strategic move blow-up in Feaster’s face like this. Sometimes the devil is in the details though. It also shows how hard it is to acquire players like O’Reilly if you aren’t able to draft them.
UPDATE 2 – @TMrjmki posted this on twitter today, capturing this whole saga from a Flames fan perspective over the last 24 hours or so: