Mike Reilly, former Minnesota Golden Gopher star, is testing NHL free agency on July 1. Reilly, who was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round (98th overall), has decided to take advantage of the free agency options allowed to college players in the current CBA and has been speaking with various NHL teams.
Reilly is a native of Chanhassen, Minnesota who first suited up for the Golden Gophers in the 2012-13 season, and found increasing success during each year that he played. As a defenseman, he was able to wrack up 42 points (six goals, 36 assists) in the 39 games in which he played during his junior year. During his college career, Reilly earned both All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year titles, twice. Although his team was one of the top ranked in the country, Reilly decided that pursuing his NHL career would be in his best interest, and announced that he would forego his senior season with the Gophers.
Outside of his college experience, Reilly has suited up for Team USA at the IIHF World Championships, capturing a bronze medal in 2015.
Many teams across the NHL have shown interest in the talented defenseman, but according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the final candidates are the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, and Reilly’s hometown team, the Minnesota Wild.
Reilly’s father, Mike Sr., also happens to be a minority owner for the Wild, so it seems that his hometown team may have somewhat of an advantage in that aspect. It would not be surprising, though, to see Reilly choose the Kings or Blackhawks, as both have recently won a Stanley Cup, a very attractive factor for a young player. On top of that, the Blackhawks seem to have a leg-up, as he was in attendance during multiple 2015 Stanley Cup Final games at the United Center in Chicago.
It will be interesting to see where Reilly chooses to begin his NHL career. Whomever is able to sign him will definitely be in luck, as he is one of the top prospects in the country, and could be an NHL star within the next couple of years.
To see highlights from Mike Reilly’s 2014-15 season with the Gophers, please click here.