Boston Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly just signed a $9 million contract to stay in Boston for the next three years and he couldn’t be happier to really become a mainstay on the Bruins blue line and a Bostonian.
“It was my intention the whole time to be able to stay in Boston,” Reilly said.
After being dealt by the Ottawa Senators to the Boston Bruins at the 2021 NHL trade deadline, Reilly finished the season strong and became that depth puck-mover the Bruins’ blue line was missing. Reilly had eight assists in 15 regular season games and four assists in eleven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In that short two-month span, Reilly realized his foreseeable future.
Despite having a chance to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his NHL career, the 28-year-old Reilly didn’t even want to test the NHL free agent market that kicked off Wednesday. While Reilly made his desire to bypass the UFA market and remain with the Boston Bruins crystal clear in his exit meetings following the conclusion of the Bruins’ 2021 season in mid-June, the Bruins, and GM Don Sweeney had plenty of roster decisions they needed to address. The Bruins expressed mutual interest to keep Reilly in black and gold but also made it clear they needed to figure out where all the pieces to the roster puzzle were going to fit.
“There were a couple of times,” Reilly replied when he was asked if he got nervous a deal with the Bruins wasn’t going to work. “Where I didn’t know for sure (if it would get done before free agency started) in the week leading up to that, and kind of waiting to hear for sure if there was going to be that offer there and whatnot. So, for a little bit maybe, but I understand there’s definitely a process. At the end of the day, I felt it was going to work out for sure in Boston.”
After being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth round (98th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly never came to terms with the Blue Jackets following his junior season at the University of Minnesota. He ended up becoming an NCAA free agent and signed a two-year, $1.85 million contract with the Minnesota Wild prior to the 2015-16 season. Two years later he was inked to another two-year deal by the Wild for $1.45 million. In the second season of that contract, Reilly was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. He re-upped for two years at $3 million with the Habs prior to the 2019-20 season but was traded to the Ottawa Senators that season. It’s been a constant test for Reilly to prove himself in the NHL and even though he finally has security for longer than two years, Reilly will still approach every day as if it could be his last in the NHL.
“My whole career it’s been coming into camp to prove myself,” Reilly said. “And I’m going to come in and treat this camp no differently, for sure.”
For now, he’s just happy to be part of a winning and professional culture with the Boston Bruins.
“I remember Taylor kind of mentioned that to me in our first couple games in,” Reilly said. “I kind of felt that same thing. Obviously, he’s a different level coming in, but it was my whole intention to want to come back and re-sign here. I’m definitely glad it all worked out, and I think I was a couple of games in, too, when I realized how great the locker room is, the culture, the team, how you get treated, the city, the fans, and everything.”