Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have learned their lesson. I'm convinced they never again will allow a coveted player to remain with the team beyond the trading deadline if he can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. They did that with Paul Stastny ... and they got burned.
It's very clear — and this will affect Ryan O'Reilly, among others, moving forward — that Sakic and Roy are sincere when they speak of a "structure," and it's about more than money. It's about buying in, being committed, wanting to be here and backing it up. The Avalanche has displayed the commitment to the model with lucrative long-term extensions, and will try to avoid even getting into the Stastny position again.
Sakic can't get too huffy. In August 1997, he agreed to a front-loaded, three-year, $21 million offer sheet from the Rangers. The cash-short Avalanche ownership of that era had to scramble to be able to write the initial $15 million check. Sakic was a restricted, not unrestricted, free agent.