Minnesota Wild: Would Mike Reilly Return To Minnesota Work?


Could the trend of players with ties to Minnesota finding they’re way back to the twin city area continue? 

Various hockey news outlets have brought this information to you and so will we. Now former Golden Gopher, and 2011 4th round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets Mike Reilly, has stated he intends to test the free agent market this summer and skip his senior season playing in Mariucci Arena. 

Reilly had been a stand-out player on the blue-line for the Gophers over three seasons. He held a  collegiate total of 89 points through 116 games at the U of M, and led the team in that category during his recent junior-year campaign with 42 points (6G 36A).

Now I know that a general manager in professional sports could care less where his players are from, or where they played in college. They’re sole job is to put together a winning team year-in and year-out. But to be fair, in Minnesota its undeniable that Chuck Fletcher has taken that into consideration numerous times over the past few years with certain players. The latest “feel-good” story being that of Jordan Leopold (or in his case, it was more than that). Could Fletcher do it once more?

Oh, and did you know Mike Reilly Sr. is a minority holder with the Minnesota Wild? This was news to me as I investigated Mike Reilly Jr. rumors from around the league when this news broke out.

How Could It Work?

By now, everyone has heard the rumors of Jared Spurgeon being a potential trade candidate this summer for cap space and due to his RFA status following the 15-16 season. A Spurgeon trade could make sense (pending the return) with Suter, Brodin and Scandella each locked up for multiple years to come. Not to mention, guys like Matt Dumba who developed right before our very eyes late in the season, who could slide into a top-four pairing next year with that right-handed shot of his.

Christian Folin, (also a RFA this summer who needs to be re-signed) could take Dumba’s 6th D-man position alongside whoever Fletcher decides to re-sign to round out the bottom pairing. Leopold and Nate Prosser are both UFA’s this summer, and Keith Ballard may retire after enduring another concussion that sidelined him for the bulk of the year. While a signing or re-signing of a bottom-six defensemen  may not be headline worthy, it’s important to follow for the sake of our younger defenceman’s mentoring progress.

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Signing Mike Reilly and having him play alongside the forgotten Gustav Olofsson of the Iowa Wild for a year, could be extremely beneficial for both players as they’d wait for their shot with their NHL counterpart. Although, who’s to say players like that wouldn’t or won’t impress in training camp come August/September? With the question marks surrounding the tail-end of Minnesota’s blue line entering the off-season, nothing is a lock at this point.

My question is, why not bring him in? He produces both on offense and is defensively responsible, and is an extremely competitive player. And really, why not continually try to generate as much scoring from the blue-line as possible. That’s something we are not going to get from the Suters and Brodins, which we witnessed all year. I say give it a shot.

If Not The Wild, Then Who?

The two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year should be highly sought after this summer, especially amongst teams in the Central Division needing defense. But one team in particular who could actively pursue him would be the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chanhassen MN native Reilly may have considerable interest in playing for a Hawks team with the track record they have. This is all speculation of course; but with a Blackhawks team only giving Kimmo Timonen barely 5 minutes TOI per night (in the playoffs no less), not to mention the flak that Michal Rozsival gets from Hawks fans night in and night out (that I noticed during the Minnesota series). They’re a team who could give the young Reilly a thorough look for the D core of the future (one that doesn’t have too many youngsters on it), and are currently doing so. Not to mention, Chicago could have some serious decisions to make this off-season in regards to their current cap situation. A Chicago signing of Mike Reilly would make sense and could resolve some future issues in Chi-town on the blue-line, although I hate to say it.

What Say You?

Should Chuck Fletcher continue the trend of bringing “former” Gophers back to Minnesota? In this case, even if they never left?

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