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Welcome Ryan O’Reilly to the trade rumor mill

Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 16: Ryan O’Reilly #90 of the Colorado Avalanche prepares for a faceoff against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on March 16, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

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Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman spoke about it this morning on the radio. Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski wrote about it as well.

Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly, if you believe what’s being reported, is on the trading block.

O’Reilly is signed through next season for a cap hit of $6 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

The 23-year-old did not, you’ll recall, sign his current contract without a fight. It took a contentious negotiation with the Avalanche, with the two sides ultimately unable to agree on a long-term deal.

And that, of course, was after his previous contract negotiation with Colorado got “ugly” and only ended when he signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames, which the Avs matched.

The Avs have three other high-end, young forwards in Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene, so all things considered, the thought of trading O’Reilly for help on the back end is hardly an outrageous one.

The challenge for the Avs, if they do go down that road during the current season, will be to realize full value for a player that can’t sign a contract extension until the summer and has proven a hard bargainer in the past.