University of Minnesota blueliner Mike Reilly is one of the top players in the country, a two-time All-American and Hobey Baker finalist that leads the Golden Gophers in scoring — the first d-man in nearly 20 years to lead the school in points.
Reilly, the 98th overall pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is also property of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Once his season is done, Reilly, a junior, is expected to announce he’s forgoing his senior season to turn pro. Once that happens, the situation gets intriguing; the Blue Jackets would only have 30 days following Reilly’s announcement to sign him to an entry-level deal.
If they don’t, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
More, 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.”
Reilly hasn’t given much insight as to why he’s yet to sign with Columbus, or if he plans to.
“I haven’t looked too much into the overall situation, just kind of focusing on our season,” he told the Dispatch. “It’s been brought up a little bit, but I’m trying not to think about it too much.”
The leading d-man scorer in all of college hockey — six goals and 38 points in 34 games — Reilly would garner plenty of interest as a UFA. It’s not unlike the interest Rangers forward and former Boston College star Kevin Hayes garnered following his collegiate career; a first-round pick of Chicago at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hayes opted not to sign his entry-level deal with the ‘Hawks and played out the string with the Eagles before becoming a UFA last summer, and signing in New York.
Hayes, 22, has enjoyed a pretty good rookie year on Broadway, scoring 12 goals and 29 points in 61 games.