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Gophers Hockey: Mike Reilly signs with Minnesota Wild

Today Iron Range Red has a little more Maroon.

Matt Christians/SB Nation College Hockey

It appears Mike Reilly's next move will be nine miles down University Avenue.

Reilly, a free agent defenseman after playing three seasons with the Gophers, is ending weeks of speculation and joining his hometown Minnesota Wild over several teams, including the team that drafted him, Columbus Blue Jackets, along with Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. He cannot officially sign a 2 year, $1.85M entry-level deal until July 1.

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was the first to report.

Reilly became the first defenseman to lead the University of Minnesota in scoring since Mike Crowley in 1996-97. He finished with 42 points (6G-36A) in 39 games while topping all Gopher players with 2.97 shots on goal per game. Minnesota claimed both the Big Ten regular season (its second consecutive Big Ten regular season title and fourth in a row) and conference tournament titles. The Gophers advanced to the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round.

In addition to earning All-American honors for the second straight year, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker top 10 finalist.

He won a bronze medal after the season at the World Championships with Team USA. Reilly previously won a gold medal in 2013 at the U-20 World Junior Championships.

The 21 year-old was a 4th round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2011 (98th overall). Since he played a year of juniors before going to Minnesota for college, Reilly was able to use his leverage from college and a draft loophole to pick his destination.

Besides getting the most coveted college free agent for the second consecutive season, Minnesota gets another young defenseman to its stable and SB Nation's 9th-best NHL prospect in NCAA hockey last season.

Listed at 6'1", 188 lbs, the Chanhassen, MN native is a puck-moving defenseman who led Minnesota's top-ranked power play each of the last two seasons. He put in the work on and off the ice, working on his skating and adding 20 lbs of muscle during his time with the Gophers on top of a heavy shot used often.

Reilly's father, also named Mike, is a minority investor in the Wild, which has made the playoffs each of the last three seasons.

He will be the third Minnesota junior to sign a pro contract after the conclusion of last season, joining fellow defenseman Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) and goaltender Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning).

The 2015-16 University of Minnesota season begins October 10th at Mariucci Arena with the U.S. Hall of Fame Game against Vermont.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --