The Boston Bruins are in the market for a top-four, left-shot defenseman, but have not ruled out a reunion with deadline addition Mike Reilly, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed.
“We’ve had constant communication with Mike’s group,” Sweeney said last Thursday. “Haven’t found a finish line there, but we thought highly of Mike and what he added to our group. We’ll continue to talk there and see what might transpire. He had some options too, and they want to explore that, but certainly we’ll be in touch with that.”
Acquired from the Senators in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick, the 28-year-old put up a career-high 27 points (all assists) in a 55-game run between Boston and Ottawa. With Boston, Reilly immediately stepped into a top-four role, with eight points and a career-high 21:04 of time on ice per night over his 15-game post-deadline run with the B’s.
Looking like a fit with the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo on Boston’s second pairing, Reilly competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his six-year NHL career in 2021, and totaled four points and a plus-3 rating in 11 games with the Bruins.
It would be interesting to see how Reilly would slot into the Bruins’ plans moving forward, too, as Sweeney outright admitted that the Bruins are looking for a left-shot defenseman who can play in all situations given the losses of both Kevan Miller (retirement) and Jeremy Lauzon (Seattle’s pick from the Bruins). Reilly was much more a five-on-five and second power-play unit dynamo than he was a roll him out there for every defensive-zone faceoff kind of player.
And as Sweeney noted, there’s external options on the table for Reilly, too, but speaking with reporters in June, Reilly made it relatively clear he enjoyed his fit and role with the Bruins, and wanted to stay with the team beyond 2021.
“I think it’s mutual [interest] right now, between us, to try and get something done,” Reilly said last month. “I definitely want to stay here, for sure. There’s been some talks, but since day one it’s been an easy transition for me to come in and just get used to everything, how they run the ship down here. It’s been great so far, and hopefully stuff can work out.”
What will be interesting to see, especially if Reilly hits the open market, will be just how high some of his bidders go.
The Seattle Kraken signed Jamie Oleksiak to a five-year, $23 million deal with their pick from the Stars, and this is a market of defensemen almost guaranteed to get overpaid. The Bruins are also interested in the 36-year-old Ryan Suter, who would play in a similar role as Reilly, and likely command more money given the competition for his services and his resume. And the Minnesota-born Reilly, who has bounced between four different franchises through the first 259 games of his NHL career, is coming off a bargain two-year, $3 million contract, and likely looking for that big payday before turning 30 in 2023.
In other words, things could get crazy this offseason in terms of the money thrown around for teams scrambling for defensive help after seeing the recent blueprints of teams battling on hockey’s biggest stage, and is Reilly who the B’s wanna throw it at?
The Bruins are slated to enter the free agent market, which opens later this week, with just over $20 million in cap space.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.