Top college free agent Mike Reilly will sign an entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild, reports Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. The Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins were also finalists to land the young defenseman, who was considered one of the top available players on the market.
Reilly is expected to sign a two-year, $1.85 million contract with the Wild that includes additional incentives, per Russo. The former star at the University of Minnesota, who earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, became a free agent on June 16 and met with as many as 10 teams.
The Blackhawks were one of those teams, and reports had them in the mix to land Reilly's services until the end. Chicago has signed several other college players to entry-level deals recently, including Kyle Baun, Michael Paliotta and Tanner Kero, but couldn't convince Reilly to sign on even with the promise of a chance at competing for an NHL spot next fall.
That's likely because the Wild could offer an even better opportunity than the reloading Blackhawks. Minnesota badly needs blue line depth next season and should slot Reilly into the lineup immediately from Day 1. In Chicago, that was also a possibility, but he likely would've needed to beat out other young players like Stephen Johns and Ville Pokka to actually get the spot. Russo says Reilly "will be given every opportunity to make the Wild out of training camp."
One other factor: Reilly's father, also named Mike, is a minority investor in the Wild. That likely played in their favor as well.