Canadiens Contractual Obligations: Mike Reilly

Now that the forward group has been rounded out in this series with the likes of Artturi LehkonenCharles Hudon and Joel Armia, here comes the back half of this series and –with it– the pending free agents on the back end.  Much ado has been made about the Canadiens defensive unit and with a plethora of options in the depth, leverage is not on the side of the players.  Maybe there will be a nugget here or there that can separate these guys from the rest of the pack and make a case for keeping one…


Mike Reilly


When he is taken for what he is –a quality bottom pair guy– it is quite easy to embrace this kid.  The likelihood of Mike Reilly continuing to be part of the plans for the Montreal Canadiens going into the future may not be a lock but considering it took Marc Bergevin multiple inquiries and attempts to acquire him, he certainly does not necessarily have one foot already out the door.  Bottom pair defencemen have often linked to the thought of being guys that can withstand a storm, block shots and hopefully get rid of the puck quickly enough to maybe generate a scoring chance or two for the depth players to help the usual suspects out with box score contribution.  However, as the game continues to trend towards the importance of depth and deploying as many players that can bring continued success as opposed to just hanging on for dear life, players like Mike Reilly will find their importance continue to sustain.


He may not be a shutdown stalwart but Reilly brings as much or more mobility than most any depth defenceman across the league and bears semblance of puck moving abilities.  The challenge for Reilly is going to be consistently bringing what he shows in flashes and glimpses.  He spent stretches of the 2018-19 season drying up in the box score with either a lack of recognition to get the most attractive aspects of his game going or simply a lack of ability to do so in his young age as much of the rest of the league continues to catch up to rolling deep with skill as the Canadiens often have through seasons of recent memory.


Getting lost in the “what if?” game, wondering what might happen if Mike Reilly were to find himself back to being deployed with Jeff Petry on occasion and so on seems to be a moot point because it will not change the value of whatever his next deal will look like at this point.  A lot of the thought process and discussion surrounding him is entrenched in hypothetical ideas and what his earnings of deals that are not going to be signed yet might look like.


In spite of being one of the better options among the depth, things are about to get tricky here…


Brett Kulak’s presence on the team makes things a little more complex but the reasons why are going to be detailed in the next part of this series.  For now, there is a new wild card on the block in the form of Otto Leskinen.  While little is known about Leskinen on this side of the world, the first words uttered in regard to him were “lethal on the power play” and considering Mike Reilly’s game, Leskinen bears a threat to his spot as a left hand shot.


It is possible that Mike Reilly could rotate in and out of the lineup in a healthy manner with the likes of Kulak and Leskinen as they jockey for position behind Victor Mete on the left side but unless Leskinen were to be able to confidently play and produce at a winning level on the second pair in the NHL, this obviously will not be ideal.  The idea moving ahead into next season is that –with or without career highs for so many this season– they will not be played out of their depth and above their heads, meaning that room here is going to be even more limited.


Verdict: give the kid a qualifying offer and make a modest offer with short term.  If he thinks he can get a better deal or more time on the ice elsewhere, accept any compensation or move him for fair value.  Offer projection: $1,100,000 per season for one to two years.


Considering that the logjam in the depth would be growing with potentially his heir apparent in Otto Leskinen coming in, the message to Mike Reilly is clear and players of the like; come this autumn, the hunger in this team must not only match last year’s but surpass it and with a persisting need to have all hands on deck, he is not going to be exempt from that.


That is… if he is, in fact, a Canadien by opening night.

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