I don’t think Ryan O’Reilly can play in the NHL this season

UPDATE: important follow-up post – “Why I’m Wrong and Everyone is…Also Wrong.”

Unless there is some kind of revision in the new CBA that now allows players to return from Europe mid-season,  I think is a big problem for the Avalanche that could keep Ryan O’Reilly out of the NHL until 2013-14.

Report: Flames could’ve lost O’Reilly to waivers | ProHockeyTalk

Apparently, the Calgary Flames are lucky the Colorado Avalanche matched their offer sheet for Ryan O’Reilly, according to a report by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston:

“That’s because O’Reilly would have needed to clear waivers before joining the team’s roster. The unsigned forward spent part of the NHL lockout playing with his brother, Cal, for Magnitogorsk in Russia. According to Metallurg coach Paul Maurice and KHL spokesman Shawn McBride, he appeared in games on Jan. 21 and Jan. 23 – both after the shortened NHL schedule was back underway – which meant that waivers were required before O’Reilly could return to the NHL as a free agent midway through the season.”

If the above information is accurate, the Flames would’ve still had to surrender a first- and third-round draft pick to the Avs if Colorado had declined to match. We imagine, if O’Reilly had indeed been lost to waivers, Calgary general manager Jay Feaster would’ve had to surrender his job, too.

More from Sportsnet: “The most interesting part of O’Reilly’s case is that the NHL didn’t believe he had played in Russia after the start of its season, according to a source. That detail had apparently slipped through the cracks [...].”

However, it could have ended up being an awfully important detail to overlook.

In case you’re wondering, when Alexander Radulov returned to the Preds in the middle of the season, it was allowed because he still had waiver-exemption left at the time of his defection. O’Reilly has played 232 NHL games, so he must clear waivers.

Once the NHL season starts, a player who plays in Europe MUST CLEAR WAIVERS IN ORDER TO RETURN TO THE NHL. I read the 2013 CBA summary document pretty thoroughly, and I don’t remember any change to this rule. (However: “Why I’m Wrong and Everyone is Also Wrong.”)

Yeah. I’m pretty sure O’Reilly can’t play this year. Sorry.

But see follow-up post – “Why I’m Wrong and Everyone is Also Wrong.”