NY Islanders defenseman Mike Reilly had something to prove this season

New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings
New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Mike Reilly has become one of the best acquisitions of the 2023-24 season across the NHL in what originally seemed like a random waiver pickup by Lou Lamoriello in November. Reilly joined the NY Islanders on November 25th after playing two games with the Florida Panthers and being placed on waivers. The veteran defenseman joined the team amid a string of injuries on the blueline and young defenseman Noah Dobson needing some relief from manning the back end. His goal was to prove that he is a solid defenseman who can play well on both ends and deserves to stay in the lineup, and he proved exactly that. As a pending UFA come July 1st, Reilly has stated that he wants to return to the Islanders come August, and he may be exactly what the Isles need for a "must win" mindset.

*Read our previously Published player report cards: Sebastian Aho | Mat Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck | Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching | Simon Holmstrom | Bo Horvat | Anders Lee | Kyle MacLean | Matt Martin | Scott Mayfield | Brock Nelson | JG Pageau | Kyle Palmieri | Adam Pelech | Ryan Pulock

NY Islanders 2023-24 season report card: Mike Reilly

Reilly started the season with zero points in two games with the Panthers and finished the season as a notable presence on the Islanders blueline and with the best season of his career. With a midseason coaching change, not many players in the Islanders lineup could keep up with Patrick Roy, but Reilly flourished and came alive under the new coach. Scoring 5 goals and 14 assists, surpassing his previous career high from 2020-21 by 5 points, Reilly proved he could not be out of the lineup even as other defensemen got healthy. Despite being brought in as a loan to fill a gap in the lineup, Reilly played crucial moments for the Isles and even manned the second power play unit as soon as he entered the locker room. Reilly excels in the defensive zone but isn't afraid to jump up into the play. He specifically shines in his transition game, which the Islanders struggled with this season.

For his bounce-back season, Reilly receives an A for his 2023-24 season. Reilly has shown that he deserves to stay in the Islanders system. At 30 years old, Reilly acts as a mentor to young defensemen and players within the Islanders system and is looking for a permanent home in the NHL, even if it's just for a few years. He deserves to come back and see a full season under Roy, and he has quickly become a fan favorite amongst Isles fans for his clutch goals and big moments throughout the season. While his future on the Island is known, fans and teammates would love to see Reilly return for the 2024-25 season, but if not, he was able to finish out his tenure on an all-time high.

Final Grade: A