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The Vancouver Canucks should absolutely put a waiver claim in for Mike Reilly

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
7 months ago
It was an unsettling few days, as we anxiously awaited the status of two Vancouver Canucks defenders.
In Tuesday’s matchup in Denver, both Tyler Myers and Mark Friedman left the game early, forcing the club to run just four defencemen for the remainder of the game.
Luckily, both players participated in Friday’s morning’s skate in Seattle, signalling that both should be ready to return without missing any action.
Crisis averted, for now.
The Canucks may have made out relatively unscathed this time, but it sheds a beaming light on the club’s extremely fragile defensive corps and capable depth.
While it has been reported that they have been actively shopping for a replacement defender — most notably Calgary Flames’ Nikita Zadorov or Chris Tanev — this recent scare has proven that management would be wise to act quickly and find worthy replacements before they get pinned into yet another sticky situation.
Perhaps the Florida Panthers just offered a quick and easy solution.
Mike Reilly, 30, was placed on waivers on Thursday morning after the Panthers welcomed back a pair of key defenders – Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour – over last week and are looking to shore up some cap space.
Reilly, a 12-year NHL veteran, has earned a reputation for his consistent, two-way brand of hockey, and while he may not be classified as a needle-moving defender, he does present a valuable and cost-effective option to bolster the left side — at least while they await the return of Carson Soucy.
“He can move a puck, he can skate,” Panthers General Manager Bill Zito said of Reilly on July 1. “He’s a dynamic kind of two-way guy.”
Between the Panthers and Boston Bruins, he’s appeared in just 12 games over the past two seasons. During that time, he’s notched an assist, 19 shots, 21 hits, and 13 blocked shots.
Taking a broader view of his career stats, with 341 NHL games under his belt, Reilly’s calling card is focused on the two-way side of the game. He’s accumulated 98 points, but it’s his 277 blocked shots and 318 hits that pique the most intrigue. Despite low statistical numbers, he has been described as a strong puck mover able to kill penalties if needed.
Digging a little deeper, Reilly boasts a solid history of Corsi For Percentage (CF%), posting above 50% at 5v5 in eight of his 12 years, including a noteworthy 56.48% across 70 games with the Boston Bruins (2020-21). Additionally, he’s posted a GF% above 50% in each of his last seven years at 5v5.
Given the Canucks’ current needs, Reilly is well-suited for steady, third-pairing minutes on a blue line that is in dire need of reliable play.
Now, let’s talk fit.
As the Canucks grapple with defensive needs, Reilly’s versatile playing style makes him an ideal candidate to seamlessly slide into the Canucks roster.
The current defensive lineup, as of Friday, looks as follows:
Hughes – Hronek
Cole – Myers
Friedman – Juulsen/McWard
Extra: Akito Hirso
It’s a less-than-ideal group for any team, let alone one with playoff contention hopes.
By now, it’s no secret that the effectiveness of Noah Juulsen in handling the everyday rigors of NHL hockey remains uncertain, at best. Meanwhile, McWard and Hirose bring little to no experience.
In Hirose’s case, he has struggled to earn playing time despite being used as the go-to call-up option, thanks to his waiver-exempt contract.
In fact, although a left-handed option, Rick Tocchet has elected to slot Mark Friedman (a right-shot defenceman) on the third-pairing in some cases, as opposed to Hirose. This decision is telling, as Tocchet has been adamant about his reluctance to play defenders on their off-hand.
At this point, it makes sense to have the 24-year-old (Hirose) sent back down to continue gaining the necessary reps at the AHL level.
As the Canucks await the return of Carson Soucy, potentially weeks away, it becomes imperative to secure a more reliable option for a concrete defensive pairing.
Adding Mike Reilly on a low-risk, low-cost contract (One year, one million dollars) presents a quick and affordable solution. His veteran presence and adaptability make him a versatile candidate for the third pairing, allowing Friedman to play on his preferred side.
At the end of the day, it may be wise for the Canucks to submit a claim for Mike Reilly in hopes of providing stability to their defensive lineup as they await to finalize deals through other avenues.

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