Doesn’t appear as though there’s been much progress on a deal between the Blue Jackets and star University of Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly.
First, this report from the Columbus Dispatch:
Then this, from TSN’s Bob McKenzie:
“If he wants to, he can say I’m not going back for my final year [at Minnesota] and 30 days later or June 1st — whatever is later — he can declare himself an unrestricted free agent.
“Columbus thinks the world of this guy. He’s a Hobey Baker candidate, a mobile, puck-handling defenseman, but right now there’s no decision imminent on that front. What he’s going to do is finish his academic year at the University of Minnesota, so that means no decision on his future will be forthcoming until we get into May.”
Reilly, 21, was Columbus’ third-round pick (98th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A two-time All-American, he became the first d-man in nearly 20 years to lead the Golden Gophers in scoring and, as McKenzie noted above, is highly coveted by the Blue Jackets.
More on that, from the Dispatch:
[Jackets GM Jarmo] Kekalainen and company have tried hard to woo him.
Last spring, they played host to him at Nationwide Arena for the two home playoff games against Pittsburgh. When the Blue Jackets played in St. Paul, Minn., on Jan. 19, Reilly watched the morning skate with Davidson and Kekalainen. Last week, when the Blue Jackets traded defenseman James Wisniewski, Kekalainen mentioned Reilly as a player who has a clearer path to an NHL job.
“Mike Reilly is having a great year in Minnesota,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a prospect we believe in, and he’ll be stepping into some big shoes with our organization. We look forward to getting him signed.”
Should Reilly balk on signing with Columbus and go unrestricted, he’d be following in the footsteps of Kevin Hayes and Justin Schultz, who spurned the Blackhawks and Ducks to sign with the Rangers and Oilers, respectively.
It’s also worth noting that Reilly’s dad, also named Mike, is a minority owner of the Minnesota Wild, which has led to speculation that the younger Reilly could opt to sign with his hometown team.