The NY Islanders acquisition of Mike Reilly creates competition for Samuel Bolduc

St Louis Blues v Boston Bruins
St Louis Blues v Boston Bruins / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

The New York Islanders acquired defenseman Mike Reilly out of necessity.

A day after losing both Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho to injury, a puck-moving defenseman with over 300+ games of NHL experience was sitting there on waivers and the Isles smartly claimed him from the Florida Panthers to provide depth and a veteran presence while they're without their top pair defenseman for an extended period of time.

Reilly, wearing No. 2, skated with the team for the first time at practice on Monday and is expected to be in the lineup alongside either Grant Hutton or Samuel Bolduc. The team and front office are very familiar with Reilly, given his time in the Eastern Conference, including being on the Boston Bruins team the Isles knocked out of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games.

“I was just waiting around, and it’s very exciting to get this opportunity, and it’s a team I’ve played a lot, played in the playoffs a couple times,” said Reilly on Monday in the NY Post. “Familiar with a couple guys in here. Definitely really excited.”

22-year-old Samuel Bolduc has been the team's seventh defenseman all season after signing a one-way contract during the summer. He's struggled during his multiple opportunities to fill in, first for Scott Mayfield and later for Pelech, when he missed three games earlier in the season. Head coach Lane Lambert has hesitated to play Bolduc more than 8-12 minutes a night, leading to Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, and others logging 20+ minutes routinely. Dobson currently is averaging over 25 minutes of TOI per game.

If Hutton gets the nod over Bolduc tonight in NJ, it indicates the door is open for someone else to be the team's sixth defenseman (when Aho is back) and seventh (when Pelech returns). While Bolduc is a young defenseman, and former AHL All-Star that the organization certainly hopes continues to develop, they could be forced into a decision if Reilly asserts himself as a trusted presence on the blue line with mobility and puck-moving skills that the team has lacked even before the injuries.