The buzz around Mike Reilly

Mike Reilly - University of Minnesota

(Photo Courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

With a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in game seven of the Eastern Conference Final, it’s time to look ahead to the next season of New York Rangers hockey. Everyone seems to have their own idea of which trades to make, who needs to go, and who needs to stay.

There are many options out there to improve the New York Rangers and hopefully push them over the hump to finally get that Cup win. One of those options would be to sign college free agent, Mike Reilly.

Reilly was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth round, 98th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. In his time playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the NCAA’s WCHA and later on Big 10 conference, Reilly blossomed into a stellar defenseman. Characteristics of Reilly’s game include his incredibly smooth and powerful skating along with an absolute cannon of a shot from the point. His finished the 2014-15 season with 42 points (six goals and 36 assists) in 39 games.

Reilly has told the Blue Jackets that he will indeed test the free agent market when he becomes available to sign on June 16th. Where could he land? Possible teams he has been linked to are the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Minnesota Wild, the Edmonton Oilers, the St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks and of course, the New York Rangers. Just how serious are teams about signing him?

Yeah, it’s a big deal when General Manager’s themselves want to speak with you.

So what exactly would the New York Rangers have to do to sign Reilly? With the loaded blueline they possess someone would have to go for Reilly to get playing time. Let’s not forget that Reilly’s teammate in Minnesota, Brady Skjei (who was drafted in the first round, 28th overall, by the Rangers in 2012) will also been in play for a roster position. Of course the money would be an issue since the Rangers are basically against the cap but with some trades, getting Reilly here could be possible. First let’s take a look at their blueline as it’s currently constructed:

McDonagh – Girardi
Staal – Boyle
Yandle – Klein

McDonagh isn’t going anywhere, that’s a fact. In my opinion, neither is Keith Yandle; but any of the other four in my opinion could be moved for the right price. Yes, as Rangers fans we all get attached to certain players but sometimes, for the better of the team, trades need to be made. One area the Rangers need improvement is scoring. Could Staal, Girardi, Boyle, or Klein be the key to bring in some offensive power? I’d say yes.

The Edmonton Oilers are the most obvious target. They need goaltending and defense and it just so happens the Rangers can offer them both. Would a trade of Staal or Girardi along with Cam Talbot and a draft pick be enough to pry away one of Edmonton’s young powerful forwards such as Jordan Eberle? Maybe so and if that happens there would be an empty space on the blueline for Reilly to fit in. The Rangers defense gets younger and more mobile and they add a top line winger. It may seem a bit farfetched but it’s a possibility none the less.

If the Rangers wanted Skjei to come up as well, more trade options would need to be explored by the team. Teams such as the Dallas Stars, and Columbus Blue Jackets could use help on the blueline and with good young wingers on those teams, maybe the Rangers could pry one away from those teams. For Reilly, and possibly Skjei to fit in with the team next season, the Rangers will have to do some tinkering. A possible blueline for the Rangers next season could look like this:

McDonagh – Girardi
Reilly – Staal
Yandle – Skjei/Klein

At the end of the day, where Reilly decides to go will be where he feels he will have a good amount of ice time as well as a good chance to win. He could also decide to sign with a team that isn’t yet there but on the rise like the Oilers since they will most likely have Connor McDavid on their roster come June 26th. The Rangers could use his former teammate Skjei and fellow former NCAA player Kevin Hayes to explain to Reilly how great the organization has been to them so far but beyond that it’s anyone’s ball game. With no pick in the first round this year, adding Reilly would be huge for the Rangers. Time will tell, how the Reilly effect alters the Rangers.