Coveted NCAA defenseman Mike Reilly chooses Minnesota Wild

Puck-moving college defenseman Mike Reilly has decided to sign with his hometown team, the Minnesota Wild.

The top college free agent player has decided to stay home. Per beat writer Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, defenseman Mike Reilly will sign with the Minnesota Wild on an expected two-year, $1.85-million deal when eligible next Wednesday.

Reilly, 21, was born in Chicago but raised in Minnesota. He cut his teeth at the esteemed Shattuck-St. Mary’s. He won a gold medal with the U.S. world junior team in 2013 and bronze playing with men on the World Championship team this spring. Reilly played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota. He stood out as a puck-mover, notching better than a point per game in 2014-15 with the Gophers, and he’s the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, too.

Reilly became a free agent last week when he didn’t re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted him 98th overall in 2011. He chose the Wild over the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, with the Penguins supposedly the runner-up. Reilly’s father is a minority investor with the Wild’s ownership group, too.

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Russo, who has as good a read on the Wild as any reporter in the business, says Reilly will get every opportunity to make the team out of training camp. Considering Reilly’s outstanding and varied experience for his age and the Wild’s need for help on defense, the idea doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin