Ryan O'Reilly was the third-line centre for the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, and his coach said he was average, and the most embarrassing thing to happen in his immediate vicinity was a loss in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets. That wasn't good, mind you, but it happens, now and then.

The rest of his week was rather more embarrassing for everyone involved. First the Calgary Flames made the restricted free agent an offer, which is also a rare thing. Then the Avalanche matched the offer while behind 2-0 in a game against those Flames in Denver, and eventually came back from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-4. That was embarrassing for Calgary, but that happens, too. Chicago still hasn't lost a game in regulation. It's a bit of a weird year.

But what happened after that was the impressive part, if you like slapstick. As first reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.ca, O'Reilly played two games in the KHL after the NHL season began, a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of almost everybody else in hockey. As Johnston reported, that meant O'Reilly would have to clear waivers if signed by anybody other than Colorado. Since he's a 22-year-old centre with considerable upside, odds are he wouldn't have cleared.

So let's assess the road not taken. Had Colorado decided that the acrimony and US$10-million price tag over the next two seasons was too much, then Calgary would have had to pay Ryan O'Reilly a US$2.5-million signing bonus and then put him on the curb, where the Blue Jackets presumably would have loaded him in the back of their truck and driven off.

Colorado would then have received Calgary's first- and third-round picks this year, which since the Flames entered last night's game against Vancouver as the seventh-worst team in the NHL by points gained per game, could be pretty good. It would have essentially been the Phil Kessel deal if you immediately gave Phil Kessel and US$2.5-million to Columbus for a bag of magic beans. And in Calgary, everybody probably would have been fired.

Colorado, however, decided to match, so now the Flames' front office might just get ridiculed to death. Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night that he knew O'Reilly had played KHL games, but so far he's about the only one in the league who has said that aloud.



Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Flames+Reilly+faux+lead+moving+Iginla+Kiprusoff/8043021/story.html#ixzz2MaKIo3pH