BUFFALO -- Columbus Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Paul Castron remembers that when they selected defenseman Mike Reilly in the fourth round (No. 98) of the 2011 NHL Draft, it was with the hope that he could develop into a big piece of their future.
Though Reilly may become an effective NHL player, it's unclear if it will be with the Blue Jackets, who on Wednesday granted Reilly permission to speak to other teams after failing to agree on a contract with him.
Reilly is speaking with teams this week at the NHL Scouting Combine at First Niagara Center. He told NHL.com on Wednesday that Columbus remains under consideration as he mulls his options. TSN reported Thursday that Reilly and his representatives planned to meet with eight other teams: the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I haven't been able to talk to any teams until now since I had to wait 30 days after withdrawing from school," Reilly said Wednesday. "There's a lot of things that go on, but I think it's good to kind of see what else is out there. I'm still huge on Columbus. But to be in this situation is pretty unique."
Reilly can become an unrestricted free agent June 15 but would have to wait until July 1 to sign with a team other than Columbus.
"It's out of our control; we drafted him, spent time with him the last four years, in his Tier-2 year in Penticton [British Columbia Hockey League], and three more years at the University of Minnesota," Castron said Thursday. "Our development coach, Chris Clark, spent the most time with him.
"You're happy with the way he developed and you look forward to seeing him in your uniform, so hopefully we still have a chance at that. ... I think we have lots to offer him too. He's kind of what we need. We don't have a lot of highly skilled offensive defensemen. He has great skill and is a good kid. Hopefully we're still in the mix. I guess we'll wait and see."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mikemorrealeNHL