Preds ink Cal O'Reilly to a 2-year deal…

The Nashville Predators secured what most think is a significant piece of their puzzle today by re-signing center Cal O’Reilly.

Too bad Pred fans will have to wait until 2010-11 to see him wearing an NHL sweater full-time.

On the heels of his 23rd birthday, O’Reilly inked a two-year deal with Nashville. The first year is a two-way deal, allowing him to be sent down to Milwaukee. The second year, however, is a one-way deal which will keep him with the big club the entire season.

The former 5th round pick will make $550,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level during the 2009-10 season. The NHL-exclusive year of the contract will pay him $575,000.

While a point-per-game scorer in the AHL, the Toronto native showed flashes of brilliance in just about every game he played in with the big club. He tallied three goals in his 11 NHL games despite not being known as a goal scorer. He also provided two helpers while up in Nashville and consistently showed off his creativity. O’Reilly is a huge part of the franchise’s future, it’s just hard to fit him in on a roster over-loaded at the center position.

Jason Arnott, David Legwand and Jerred Smithson have locks on the 1st, 2nd and 4th line center positions, respectively. With every passing moment, it seems like Colin Wilson will be slotted in as the #3 center and, short of moving to wing, that muscles O’Reilly right off the NHL depth chart. With Arnott and Smithson being in the last year of their contracts in 2010-11, it appears this move might force some decisions to be made next summer. Do they like Smithson enough to keep him off the waiver wire? Do they want to get something for Arnott before he becomes a UFA? Is Wilson everything they thought he’d be as an NHLer? All of these questions must be addressed when bringing O’Reilly into the fold full-time next year.

But for now, it appears Cal is destined to lead the Admirals in scoring once again.

Unless, of course, he plays so well in camp that they’re forced to pay him the half million this season.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jay LaPrete/AP

One Comment

  1. SLake

    September 2, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Jeremy, I strongly disagree with your assessment that Colin Wilson will start the season in Nashville. As a matter of fact I think that the depth at the position indicates the exact opposite.

    IMO, O’Reilly will get the opportunity at some point in camp (regardless of how Santorelli or anyone else is playing) to play center with Legwand and Erat flanking him on the wings. Cal possesses elite playmaking abilities which needs talent around him to flourish. Additionally, with Cal’s playmaking ability at center and Leggy and Erat speeding up and down the wings it should bring out the best in all three.

    Ultimately though, at worst, I see Cal slotted in at third line center to start the season with Jones and Ward hopefully on his wings. That would make a solid two-way third line, but of course…it might also leave a big hole still to be filled one line above…