Mike Reilly set an intention months ago to remain with the Boston Bruins, and that’s exactly what he did.
Coming off one of his most productive NHL seasons, the defenseman elected not to test unrestricted free agency. He instead chose to re-sign with the Bruins, who acquired him at the April trade deadline, on a three-year deal that will carry a $3 million annual cap hit.
“It was my intention the whole time to be able to stay in Boston,” Reilly said Thursday morning over Zoom.
Whereas deals with players like Taylor Hall were finalized in relatively short order following the expansion draft, things took a little longer with Reilly.
As recently as last Thursday, Sweeney had indicated he was in communication with Reilly’s camp, but nothing had been completed. It wasn’t until Tuesday that negotiations were close to crossing the finish line. But for a moment it seemed like Reilly might head to market whether he wanted to or not.
“There were a couple times,” Reilly said, “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.”
This is interesting territory for Reilly. He’s played on short-term deals often throughout his career, but now he has some longer-term security with the Bruins. For some, that can be a fast track to taking the foot off the gas and just enjoying not having the pressure that comes with a contract year.
It does not appear Reilly is employing that mindset.
“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.”
Hall had mentioned last week that it only took him five or six games with Boston to realize that’s where he wanted to be. It was an equally rapid decision for Reilly.
“I remember Taylor kind of mentioned that to me in our first couple game 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 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.
“Those were pretty easy decisions in my mind to try to come back and make it work. So, it ended up working out and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Reilly posted no goals with 27 assists in 55 games last season. Eight of the helpers came in 15 contests with Boston. He suspects he’ll be back with Brandon Carlo, but the Bruins have enough moving pieces that he could be used in a variety of roles and with varying partners.