Last week (Nov. 9), the Boston Bruins placed Mike Reilly on waivers due to the return of star defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Although some wondered if the 29-year-old defenseman would get claimed due to several teams dealing with injury trouble, he cleared and is currently down in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Providence Bruins. However, things may change on that front. According to Mark Divver of the New England Hockey Journal, Reilly is “hoping for a trade,” but he also noted that he’s unsure if “there is something in the works or not.”
It ultimately makes sense that Reilly is wishing for a change of scenery. There’s no question that he is an NHL-caliber defenseman, but the Bruins’ depth on the left side mixed with their salary cap trouble has made him the odd-man out. The primary obstacle in a Reilly trade is that he carries a $3 million cap hit until the end of the 2023-24 season, and that’s pretty hefty given his role as a bottom-pairing defenseman. However, if the Bruins add a small sweetener in a deal, there certainly could be interest in him. Keep in mind, this is a defenseman who just had 27 points in 65 games in 2020-21.
Nevertheless, let’s look at some possible trade destinations for the disgruntled Reilly.
St. Louis Blues
Although they were viewed as legitimate contenders entering the season, the St. Louis Blues have been a complete and utter mess thus far. At the time of this writing, they sport a 5-8-0 record and are currently at the bottom of the Central Division. They could use a jolt to get things back on track, and one area that surely needs help is the left side of their defensive group. Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich are both out with long-term injuries, and it is, understandably, impacting the depth of their defense rather significantly. Therefore, I could see them making a push for Reilly.
If acquired by the Blues, Reilly could be an excellent fit on their bottom pairing. He would be an upgrade over Calle Rosen due to his offensive ability and reliable defensive play. However, Reilly is also quite versatile, so he could play on the right side if needed as well. When looking at the Blues’ roster, he would also be in the running to play on their power play and even take some shifts on their penalty kill. Overall, he would simply provide them with another NHL-caliber defenseman, and that’s something they desperately need.
I think the Bruins are at a point where they have zero leverage in a hypothetical Reilly deal, so in a trade with the Blues, we could see him dealt for future considerations. However, the Bruins may also need to add at least one draft pick to the trade. Overall, this would be a big win for both the Blues and Reilly, but Boston would also fix their cap issues in the process.
Could a reunion with the Ottawa Senators make sense for Reilly? I’d say yes. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported on his most recent 32 Thoughts episode (Nov. 12) that the Senators are looking to add a defenseman to their group. This is entirely understandable, as fellow left-shot defenseman Thomas Chabot was recently injured, while Nikita Zaitsev was placed on waivers. Needless to say, the struggling Senators could use a boost to their blue line, and Reilly could be a great addition because of it.
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The Senators are certainly familiar with Reilly, as that is where he played his best professional hockey. In 70 total games for them over two seasons, he had one goal to go along with 30 assists. It’s clear that he thrived while in Ottawa, and that could be enough for general manager (GM) Pierre Dorion to consider him as a trade target. With the Senators, he could fit nicely in their top four and help quarterback their power play while Chabot is sidelined.
At the end of the day, the Senators are due for a move. At the time of this writing, they have a 5-8-1 record and are last in the Atlantic Division. This is below initial expectations, so the Senators would be wise to make an addition to their lineup sooner rather than later. Let’s see if Reilly’s past success with the team leads Dorion to pursue a move from here.
The Arizona Coyotes could certainly look to take advantage of Boston’s salary cap situation and bring Reilly in. However, in this scenario, they would only consider making such a move if it included at least one sweetener. The Coyotes have become famous for taking on bad contracts over the last few years, and it’s a trend that we are likely to see continue as their rebuild carries on. Some recent examples of players who they took in for added draft picks include Zack Kassian, Andrew Ladd, Patrik Nemeth, and Nick Ritchie. Therefore, it would not be surprising at all if they did the same thing for Reilly.
Being traded to Arizona could also benefit Reilly immensely, too. With the Coyotes, he would have a cemented spot in their top four and be a potential fit on one of their power-play units. This, in turn, could be enough to help him find his previous scoring touch. Shayne Gostisbehere found his old form after being dealt to Arizona, so who’s to say Reilly can’t, too?
Nevertheless, we will have to wait and see if Reilly’s desire to be moved is met. There’s no question that he has the potential to be a home run for each of these teams, but as I stated above, I can’t see a scenario where the Bruins can trade him without adding at least a draft pick to the deal. Either way, time will tell if a move comes to fruition from here.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.