After being acquired at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators by the Boston Bruins, Mike Reilly filled a void that Boston was missing on the left side of their defense because of injuries. Things went so well, the Bruins made sure they locked up what appeared to be a two-month rental for three more years.
Reilly agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract Tuesday night that carries an annual average value (AAV) of $3 million. It is a bump in pay following the season and the $1.5 million AAV he had the last two seasons on a $3 million contract he signed with the Senators in June of 2019.
Reilly Returns to the Bruins
Through the first 40 games of the 56-game shortened 2020-21 season, Reilly had 19 assists, which was already a career-high with the Ottawa Senators. At the trade deadline in April, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney filled a need by sending a 2022 third-round pick to Ottawa for Reilly to fill a much-needed hole as the Boston blueline was hit hard by injuries.
Reilly proved to be the left-shot defenseman that the Bruins needed as he had eight assists in 15 games and had a plus/minus of plus-7. It did not take him long to settle in Boston as he had four assists in his first five games with the Black and Gold. He averaged 21:04 as a top-four defenseman in the regular season for Boston, but increased his time on ice time by 25 seconds a game in the playoffs with four assists in 11 games, which was his first trip to the postseason in his career.
Reilly was selected in the fourth round, 98th overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2011 Entry Draft and has bounced around with the Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, and Senators before being traded to Boston. Prior to the 2020-21 season, he had 11 assists in 30 games with the Senators after being traded from the Canadiens on Jan. 3, 2020.
Where He Fits Back in Boston
Reilly can be slotted anywhere on the left side, but his ideal position would be a second pairing, which he primarily played in Boston with Brandon Carlo. A smart puck-moving defenseman that sees the ice well, he can spell minutes on the second power play unit, and can be a key defenseman 5-on-5 that will play in late-game situations on defensive zone faceoffs. More than anything, he supplies the Bruins with some defensive depth. In a perfect world for Boston, he would be the third pairing as they look to add a top-four blueliner in the next couple of days.
After re-signing Taylor Hall on July 23, the Bruins still have $17 million in cap space ahead of Wednesday’s noontime beginning of free agency once the signing of Reilly is official. They are still in the need of a middle-six forward, wing, or center, a top-four left-shot defenseman, and a goalie. Veteran goalie Tuukka Rask is a free agent and even if he re-signs with Boston, he will be out until January or February of 2022 as he is scheduled to undergo surgery for a torn hip labrum.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma, Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.