The Kings pursuit of free agent college defenseman Mike Reilly continues. He was even in Los Angeles recently to tour the team’s training facility and get a firsthand look at the lay of the land. However, things may have hit a significant wrinkle since.
Coming off a year in which he was an offensive powerhouse at the University of Minnesota – including leading his team in scoring (42 points in 39 games), as well as finishing as the highest-scoring defenseman and plus-minus leader (plus-25) in the NCAA’s Big Ten conference – the 6-foot-1-defender added to his growing resume by earning a bronze medal with Team USA at the recent IIHF World Championships. Still, given that the 21-year-old has yet to play a single game of professional hockey at any level, we checked in with two of our frequent college hockey sources to gather some intel over the weekend and here is what was shared:
“Mikey is pretty good, but he’s not for everyone. He has special ability with the puck on his stick to make things happen offensively. He still has a lot of work to do defensively and [he may] struggle with the physical aspect of the NHL. … He’s worth the risk because if he puts it together, he’s high end.”
We specifically asked a second contact to compare Reilly to Paul LaDue, a top-10 ranked Kings prospect, who also plays college hockey.
“Reilly is better [than LaDue] offensively, but not as good in his own end. He’s really dynamic offensively. … He’s not Jack Johnson level scary in own end, but also not as big as Jack either. … I’d say he’s like Jared Spurgeon [of the Minnesota Wild] in a lot of ways, but with more size. … Reilly will consistently outscore LaDue in the NHL, but I would not trade LaDue for Reilly.”
Here is a quick highlight reel put together by the University of Minnesota:
Now, will he sign with the Kings?
As discussed in detail last week, it won’t come down to money; with NHL teams only allowed to offer a two-year entry level contract plus some mild bonuses.
What could be the deciding factor then? MayorsManor has learned that Reilly’s camp has asked for a guarantee that he will be in the NHL next season. Allegedly, Kings GM Dean Lombardi has said the Hobey Baker finalist will have every opportunity to make the team out of training camp, but nothing will be a given.
You can’t fault the kid for trying, that’s all part of the negotiating process. On the other hand, if the Blackhawks have a spot waiting for him on their 2015-16 roster, that could be just enough to sway Reilly’s decision towards Chicago. While some believe that to be the case, the reality may in fact be they are in a situation fairly similar to the Kings – one defenseman too many already and several questions to be answered regarding how to piece it all together. Coach Joel Quenneville will definitely have Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson coming back. Yet, even with Johnny Oduya likely leaving, they would still have Trevor van Riemsdyk, Michael Paliotta, Stephen Johns, David Rundblad, and Erik Gustafsson fighting for spots.
We shall see soon enough how it all plays out; a decision is likely this week. Regardless of Reilly’s decision, though, the Kings already have their hands full on defense.
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