To say there are a few teams interested in free agent defenseman Mike Reilly would be an understatement. After all, the NCAA standout and former Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick is set to meet with nine teams at the combine this weekend.
According to a report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Reilly will meet with the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the team that drafted him 98th overall in 2011, the Blue Jackets.
Reilly, a 21-year-old native of Chicago, Ill., informed the Blue Jackets that he would be testing the free agent waters in mid-May, and it appears he will head for free agency on June 16, at which point he is open to sign with a team of his choosing.
The Blue Jackets’ failure to sign Reilly in the four years following his being drafted is the reason he is able to test the market, and he’s not the only player to do so. Similar situations occurred with Kevin Hayes last season – drafted by Chicago, signed his entry-level deal with the New York Rangers – and Blake Wheeler – drafted by Phoenix, signed first contract with Boston – leading up to the 2008-09 campaign.
All the free agent speculation could be for naught, however, as Reilly has said he would consider signing with Columbus. Were he to sign elsewhere, however, the Blue Jackets would not receive compensation as the Blackhawks did for Hayes because Reilly wasn’t selected in the first round of the draft.
Reilly has really come into his own over the past two seasons, being named the Big Ten defensive player of the year and a first-team all star in 2013-14 and being named to the West first all-American team in each of the past two seasons.
After posting nine goals and 33 points in 41 games with the University of Minnesota in 2013-14, Reilly followed his performance up with six goals and 42 points in 39 games this past campaign.
Reilly was named to the American World Championship squad that played in this year’s tournament in the Czech Republic. It was his first international competition outside of junior and, while he didn’t play big minutes, he managed one assist in 10 games as USA captured bronze. His only other international appearance came in the World Junior Championship, when he scored one goal and three points in seven games at the 2012-13 tournament.