Mike Reilly heads to free agency after choosing not to sign with Blue Jackets

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Mike Reilly heads to free agency after choosing not to sign with Blue Jackets
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Todd Richards, Team USA head coach, had a window of several weeks to try and sell free agent-to be Mike Reilly one final time on the Columbus Blue Jackets while at the World Championships.

It didn’t work.

On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets announced that Reilly, who the team drafted 98th overall in 2011, would not be signing with them. Columbus held the former University of Minnesota defenseman’s rights until June 15, but the CBA allowed him to opt out of signing and pursue a deal elsewhere.

Ryan Johansen, your thoughts?

“We did everything we could, but we have to make other plans now. He was a good prospect for us, but we have to move forward,” said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to the team’s website.

In three years with the Golden Gophers, Reilly posted 89 points in 117 games.

You may remember a similar situation last summer with Kevin Hayes, who opted not to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks and moved onto the New York Rangers. Same thing happened with Justin Schultz and the Anaheim Ducks in 2012 when he chose to sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

Earlier this month, the Blue Jackets allowed Reilly to speak with other NHL teams at the draft combine in Buffalo, and according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch the list is down to “two or three” teams. The Blackhawks, Penguins, Kings, Rangers and Wild were among the nine teams in the running.

Who has the edge? Well, the Blackhawks won yet another Stanley Cup and could certainly use an upgrade on their third pairing and/or a replacement for Johnny Oduya if he leaves via free agency. The Penguins have Crosby, Malkin, Letang and the desire to go young on the blueline. LA has two recent Cups of their own. The Rangers have reached the Stanley Cup or conference final in three of the last four seasons. Reilly’s father, Michael, is a minority investor in the Wild.

Lots of good options available for Reilly, but as I’m sure he’ll say in his introductory press conference, it will come to “the right fit.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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