When Mike Reilly rolled into the Boston Bruins dressing room for the first time, a familiar face was waiting there for him.
The new Bruins defenseman, acquired late Sunday night in exchange for a third-round pick, came up in the Minnesota system as a prospect. Of course, Charlie Coyle also was a highly-touted Wild prospect at one point, and by the time Reilly joined the organization, Coyle was an established NHLer.
Both Coyle and Reilly got to know each other before their paths split.
“Mikey’s a pretty good buddy of mine,” Coyle said Wednesday over Zoom. “We got pretty close when we were in Minnesota. I love playing with him, I’ve watched him since he was in college, he’s always been a great player. Skilled, great skater, sees the ice well, great passer and at getting shots through. Someone who can run the power play.”
Reilly played 84 games with Minnesota across four seasons before getting sent to the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 trade deadline. A year later, Coyle was off to the Bruins.
But in his time with the Wild, Reilly, then in his early 20s, often was in and out of the lineup, trying to find his footing with the varsity like any prospect. There was adversity, to be sure, but to an onlooker like Coyle, he’s better for it.
“In Minnesota he was in his first couple years in the league, and trying to find his game a little bit, I think he was in and out of the lineup trying to find his game,” Coyle said. “I think he’s grown a lot from that, I think that’s helped him get where he is today. I know in Ottawa he was playing a lot more, he was putting up a decent amount of points, and I think his confidence is growing, his game is growing.”
The 27-year-old blueliner is having a career offensive year, posting 19 assists in 40 games with the Senators this season.
“(Tuesday) I thought he had a great game, he was doing some great things out there and he’s going to be a big help for us. And so it’s awesome to have a guy like that back in the locker room, someone who I’m close with, so I’m happy about that, and I know he’s happy coming into this situation, this team, he’s heard a lot about it. I know he’s really happy to be a part of this.”
Reilly was with Jack Ahcan in practice Wednesday but he’ll most likely be back with Miller on Thursday when the Bruins face the New York Islanders.