Mike Reilly signs with Minnesota Wild

Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly holds onto the puck Saturday at Mariucci Arena.

Elizabeth Brumley, Daily File Photo

Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly holds onto the puck Saturday at Mariucci Arena.

Emily Polglaze

Despite leaving the Gophers after his junior season, two-time All-American Mike Reilly will still be staying in Minnesota. 
 
Reilly officially signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, after becoming a free agent on June 15. 
 
“I feel very comfortable with Minnesota,” Reilly said. “As it all unfolded in the last few days, this is what made the most sense.” 
 
Prior to his decision to sign with the team, Reilly had a whirlwind of a few weeks. 
 
After representing the United States at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in the Czech Republic in May, Reilly returned home briefly before leaving for a study abroad trip to China with his brothers and former Gophers teammates Connor and Ryan Reilly.
 
But when he got back, Mike Reilly got down to the business of deciding his future within the National Hockey League.
 
“He came back from China and left the next day for Buffalo,” his mother, Lisa Reilly, said. “I know it was an exhausting day for him, and he was prepared, but it was kind of crazy.” 
 
Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 98th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly told the team in early June he would explore his options with other teams through free agency. 
 
And in the end, Minnesota’s team stuck out to him.
 
“[The Wild are] more and more fun to watch every year,” Reilly said. “They have a lot of great pieces and young guys who want to win.” 
 
Although Reilly was not around his family during much of the process, Lisa Reilly made sure her son knew he had their full support. 
 
“I’d text him and say, ‘I’m proud of you and how you’re dealing with it,’” she said. “He’s been really professional about it.” 
 
This is not the family’s first encounter with the NHL, but it is different this time around.
 
Reilly’s father, Mike Reilly Sr., was drafted by the Montreal Canadians in 1977, but he never pursued playing professional hockey. 
 
Reilly Sr., a former Gophers forward, instead got involved on the business end as a minority owner of the Wild.
 
“Sometimes kids get drafted and it doesn’t always work out the way they want it to,” Lisa Reilly said. “I think Mikey is one of the lucky ones; this is really happening for him.” 
 
There is no guarantee Mike Reilly will see ice time for the Wild next season, though general manager Chuck Fletcher certainly believes the defenseman has the ability. 
 
“He’ll have to come in and earn it,” Fletcher told reporters on July 1 following Reilly’s officially signing with the team. “But this is a world-class hockey player we added to the team.” 
 
To get his career started, Reilly will participate in the Wild’s development camp July 9-14 to try to secure a spot on the team. 
 
He said he’s looking forward to the day he can step out on to the ice for the first time in a Wild jersey. 
 
“Whenever that day is, it’ll be very exciting,” Reilly said. “I’m anxious to get going; it’ll be very special.”