The Chicago Blackhawks definitely need to get some defensive help this summer, and there are a lot of guys they could go after.
The hockey world was set abuzz with the recent report that Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones wouldn’t be seeking an extension with the team. Chicago is being talked about a lot as a potential trade partner, and I’d love to see Jones in a ‘Hawks sweater.
Whether or not the ‘Hawks end up trading for Seth Jones remains to be seen. However, while the team would undoubtedly improve by adding him, I still think they’d need additional defensive help. If general manager Stan Bowman is looking towards signing UFAs, I think a guy like Mike Reilly could make a great impact with the Blackhawks.
The 27-year-old Reilly has been in the league since the 2015-16 season, so he’s not a rookie by any means. However, he still has youth on his side and has improved his game a lot over the course of the past few years. He’s been shuffled around a bit and is currently playing for the Bruins in the playoffs, trying to bring a Stanley Cup back to Boston.
Reilly doesn’t have a lot of offensive prowess, but then again, his job is to be a defenseman, and that’s what he does best. He is able to move the puck around very well in his own zone and is rarely caught out of position. This isn’t to say that he can’t contribute at all on the scoresheet, though, as he does have 80 career points.
There are other free agents that Chicago could go after, like Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie. However, Barrie had a big bounce-back year with the Oilers, and as a result, will likely be looking for a very large pay increase to sign a new contract. This is what makes Reilly a more appealing player in my mind, as he probably wouldn’t have as high of an asking price.
Per CapFriendly, Reilly’s current contract, which is up after this season, was signed for two years at $3 million, an average annual value of $1.5 million. The Blackhawks still a decent amount of cap space to work with next year, even if they were to add Seth Jones.
With this financial freedom, Chicago could probably sign Reilly to a similar contract as his previous one. However, he’d likely want a small pay raise, especially if Boston ends up winning the Stanley Cup. The good news is that even if the ‘Hawks had to give him a $3.5 million or even $4 million contract, they’d have the cap space to do it.
There are a ton of questions surrounding this team as the offseason continues. From the NHL Entry Draft approaching to the start of free agency, the Blackhawks will have a lot of opportunities to add quality players. If the price is right, I think a guy like Mike Reilly could be a valuable asset.