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Avalanche Offseason 2011: Ryan O'Byrne Signs Two Year Contract

The Colorado Avalanche continue to lock up their restricted free agents with less than 24 hours remaining until the start of NHL Free Agency on July 1. They have signed defenseman Ryan O`Byrne to a two year contract worth $3.6 million, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.

O'Byrne, 26, was acquired last December in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Avalanche prospect Michael Bournival. The physical defenseman added size and toughness to a Colorado defense that was sorely lacking in both departments. Though he projects as nothing more than a third pairing player, O'Byrne adds long-term stability to an Avalanche defensive corps that is projected to be very young next year.

The two year contract is particularly surprising, as Colorado has appeared hesitant to sign their restricted free agents to longer than a one year deal. At an average annual value of $1.8 million, Colorado is paying O'Byrne as a prominent member of the defense for the next couple of seasons. It's a vote of confidence for last year's midseason acquisition.

With this signing, Colorado is now $14.5 million away from the league required cap floor, but still have four more restricted free agents with qualifying offers that are unsigned.