The Chicago Blackhawks are among the final four finalists to sign free agent defenseman Mike Reilly, reports Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Russo lists the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins as the other teams in the hunt for Reilly's services. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted Reilly in the fourth-round of the 2011 draft, were informed by him Wednesday he won't be signing with them. The New York Rangers were also told they were out of the running Thursday.
Here's more from Russo's report:
He has made his visits, talked with the GM's, the contracts would all be the same two-year deals with max bonuses. Now his plan is to circle back and talk with a few of the team's coaches before making a final decision.
He can't sign until July 1, but he can make his decision and even an announcement before.
It'd be interesting if the Wild wins the sweepstakes only because Reilly's agent, Pat Brisson, has a ton of history with the Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane deals), the Penguins (Sidney Crosby's agent, pals with Mario Lemieux), the Kings (pals with Rob Blake). If he chooses Minnesota over those appealing choices, it does show that Reilly's the one making the decision, not Brisson.
Reilly's dad, also named Mike, is a minority owner of the Wild, which has led many to speculate the younger Reilly could opt to sign with his hometown team.
Reilly, who turns 22 in July, is listed at 6-foot-1 183 pound. He posted six goals and 36 assist in 42 games for the Golden Gophers, and was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player.
The two-time All-American and reigning two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year won a bronze medal with Team USA at the IIHF Worlds Championships in May. The left-handed shooter posted an assist and 10 shots with a plus-3 in 10 games. He previously won a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships.
Reilly was ranked ninth by SB Nation College Hockey's Top 100 NHL prospects in the NCAA:
"Like most of his Minnesota team, Reilly went through a lull in his play through the middle part of the season. But when Reilly is benign assertive, and playing at his best, he has the ability to take over a game in a way that no other defenseman in college hockey can. His smooth skating and vision makes him an elite puck-mover, and he runs Minnesota's power play smoothly and efficiently, making him the leading scorer among defenseman in the NCAA."