- © RIA Novosti. Grigory Sokolov
© RIA Novosti. Grigory Sokolov
MOSCOW, January 24 (R-Sport) - Former Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly is likely to return to the NHL after his Russian team released from his KHL contract by mutual consent Thursday.
O’Reilly, a restricted free agent in the NHL, signed a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk last month with a clause allowing him to leave if offered more money by an NHL franchise.
“Ryan did not rule out the possibility of a new contract overseas during February and he understood that this course of events would affect Metallurg’s preparations for the playoffs,” Metallurg said in a website statement.
The team's vice-president praised O'Reilly for agreeing to leave early to allow Metallurg to recruit a replacement before the KHL signing window ends January 31.
"Ryan behaved honorably in allowing us to find another player to replace him," Gennady Velichkin told R-Sport. "We've been looking for a player to replace O'Reilly for a long time and we've already found him," he added, but refused to name the team's target.
The Canadian, 21, was the only big NHL name to move to Russia on a permanent contract during the four-month lockout when he joined his brother Cal at Metallurg.
O’Reilly played 12 games for Metallurg, scoring five goals and five assists, and sustained a minor injury in Metallurg’s 4-1 defeat to Traktor Chelyabinsk on Wednesday.