Gillis says he knew that Ryan O’Reilly would’ve had to clear waivers

Did Canucks management really know that rule 13.23 would apply to O’Reilly?
Photo Credit: Our pal (and fancy-beard analyst) @thestanchion.

Following the Canucks’ emotional 5-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions on Saturday night, General Manager Mike Gillis appeared on CBC’s After Hours segment with Todd Simpson and Scott Oake. The three covered a fair bit of ground in the interview: talking @strombone1, the two bluechip netminders in goalie-ville, Gillis’ decision to shut Manny Malhotra down, and tacked on briefly at the end of the segment, they chatted Ryan O’Reilly.

For those of you who’ve spent this week in solitary confinement, Ryan O’Reilly was signed to an offer sheet by the Calgary Flames earlier this week and the Colorado Avalanche quickly matched the two-year pact. Had the Avalanche decided against matching the O’Reilly offer sheet, they would’ve recieved a first and a third round pick from the Flames and also Calgary would’ve had to put O’Reilly on waivers before he could play in their lineup. The reason? O’Reilly played a couple of games in the KHL past the January 19th deadline and was thus subject to CBA rule 13.23.

So do we buy that Mike Gillis was aware of this rule and a step ahead of Feaster on this? Read on past the jump.

Let’s start with Mike Gillis’ specific comments to Scott Oake on this subject during the After Hours broadcast last night. He was asked whether or not he was aware that Ryan O’Reilly would’ve been subject to waivers had any offer sheet he signed gone unmatched by Colorado, and Gillis responded with the following:

"Yes, he played games in Europe and so we were aware of it. Jay Feaster is a really good GM with lots of experience. There’s so many moving parts in this, there’s a new agreement out there, and it’s hard to stay on top of all of these different types of things. It’s an unfortunate situation but the results there."

On the one hand, few if any teams have used the collective bargaining agreement to their advantage with the ruthless efficacy that the Mike Gillis led Canucks management team have consistently demonstrated during their tenure. That probably earns them the benefit of the doubt on this matter, though of course they’ve only had a couple of months to master the new collective bargaining agreement (which isn’t even public yet, something which we’ve been struggling with in a big way this season). 

On the other hand, when Mike Gillis was asked by Jason Botchford on the Team 1040 to address Chris Johnson’s Ryan O’Reilly scoop Thursday morning (pretty much right as the news was breaking) and the Canucks GM didn’t tip his hand and come down definitively on the issue. Instead he simply said that in his judgement, the offer sheet tool had zero chance of netting the Canucks the player (though the organization fielded several requests from O’Reilly’s camp on this front):

"Of course [we considered offersheeting O’Reilly], we looked at everything but we didn’t feel confident that we wouldn’t be doing anything that wouldn’t be matched.

So you know, you make a decision – his agent called us often to try and convince us to do it but we didn’t see anyway that we could get the player. If you can’t get the player it’s sort of more of a frivolous kind of activity."

This is a bit of a digression, but asked more generally about the scarcity of offersheets and their relative lack of utility in the NHL (in comparison with say, the NBA), Gillis gave a really interesting answer on Thursday morning that I might as well include:

"It’s part of the CBA and there seems to be a stigma in the NHL about doing it, which, you know we don’t adhere to that belief. I think if there’s a player available you have to try and do everything you can to get him, but if you know that you can’t, if you know that the other team is going to match anything out there… And what it might do to your lineup and your salary structure on your team – you have to be pretty careful."

So again, Mike Gillis didn’t say anything about the applicability of waivers to the Ryan O’Reilly situation in the immediate wake of Johnson’s explosive report on Thursday morning. Two days later, however, he claims that the Canucks organization knew what was what. That makes me go, "hmmm," I must say.

Skepticism aside, I tend to think that the Canucks would’ve known – especially since they considered going the offersheet route with O’Reilly and discussed the possibility with his agent. It would be very un-Gilman-like for the club to have missed this detail while doing their due dilligence and exploring the offer-sheet route on O’Reilly.

But what do you think dear readers? Is this an example of empty hubris from Gillis, or were the Canucks a step (or two) ahead of Jay Feaster and the Flames on this subject?

  • I’m with you. Based on their history of expert CBA manipulation, I can’t see this one slipping by Gilman.

    Also, that was an extremely charitable description of Feaster by MG. And people say he has no sense of humour.

  • DCR

    I’m going with Gillis knew for the simple reason that as soon as he said O’Reilly, Gilman would have said “waivers.”

    There is absolutely no way Gilman would have missed anything like that. Now whether they’d mention it in public is another story, but they knew.

    “We didn’t see any way that we could get the player.” He knew.

  • chinook

    With all the conjecture about an offer for O’Reilly by analysts and talking heads (including former GM’s) on hockey talk shows, I find it astounding that no one identified the KHL pitfall before Calgary made their offer. Sure makes me wonder if Gillis / Gilman were really that on-the-ball, or just smart after-the-fact.

  • He said the exact same thing after not signing Weber to an offer sheet. Has no bearing on whether he knew about waivers or not. I imagine it never got far enough for Gilman to flag the waiver issue.

    The way the Canucks handle their contracts, asking players to take a cut for the greater good, an offer sheet is never going to happen under Gillis for this club.

  • Gunnar

    Look, I’ve stopped getting all boozed up and telling my buddies how I’d run the canucks because Mike Gillies and team are just smarter then me and they are doing a better job then I could. Now I just stick to the boozing, but even I have a hard time believing he knew. The NHL, who made the rule seemed to be unaware of the implications as pertaining to O’Reily why would the canucks be any different.

    Even if Gillies did know his comments come across as a smug petty jab. There was no reason to go here, I live in calgary and they do not need the help tearing into the team. The fur is flying just fine thank you very much. This was not a canuck mess they did not need to get involved. Just stand back slip a beer with a knowing smirk on your face in the back corner and enjoy the inept gong show that is the Calgary Flames organization.

  • JCDavies

    I’m not sure Colorado really knew what would happen either. If the Avalanche were certain that O’Reilly would’ve had to clear waivers if he signed an offer sheet with another team they would’ve been shouting it from every rooftop they could find. This is the type of information that would’ve crushed O’Reilly’s leverage and if it was public knowledge Colorado certainly could’ve signed O’Reilly to a better deal.

    If Gillis and Gilman really did see this coming then they are clearly several steps ahead of those two GMs and probably the vast majority of the league too.

  • Vintage Flame

    Gillis is so full of it, it’s un-real.

    Of course [we considered offersheeting O’Reilly], we looked at everything but we didn’t feel confident that we wouldn’t be doing anything that wouldn’t be matched.

    Let’s take a look at what Mike is saying here. Now I could understand if Gillis said they didn’t bother offer sheeting O’Reilly because they felt the Avs would match anything the Canucks could offer.. fine.

    But if he knew O’Reilly would have to clear waivers before joining any team, why would he have “considered” it at all?

    He’s not saying that they didn’t offer sheet ROR because of the waiver issue, but that because they felt the Avs would just match it anyways.