Our annual 2020 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
#23: Will Reilly, RD
2019 Ranking: NR
Age: 23 (DOB: July 23, 1997)
Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft, 7th Round (217th Overall)
Height/Weight: 6’2”/196 pounds
“Reilly was a top defenseman in the ECAC as a senior. He’s a defenseman with size and good two-way sense who can outlet pucks. Also, he competes well but his game lacks speed and skill.” —Corey Pronman
“The Pittsburgh draft pick spent four years at RPI maturing his game after playing a few seasons of junior hockey in the OJHL and the BCHL. The seventh-round draft pick has proven that he can contribute offensively.” —McKeen’s Hockey
After spending the last four years developing his game at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (R.P.I.) in the NCAA, Will Reilly is ready to make the leap to the professional game beginning this season. Back in April, the Penguins agreed to terms with Reilly on a two year entry level contract. It is a two-way contract that runs through the 2021-22 season and pays him just a hair over $800,000 at the NHL level.
Once you get past John Marino and Pierre-Olivier Joseph, the Penguins youth on the blue line becomes nearly non-existent. That’s where the Penguins will be counting on Reilly to step up and develop into a capable depth defenseman for the organization. Playing on the right side is another plus in Reilly’s favor and is something valued across the league.
In his senior season with R.P.I., Reilly served as the team captain and led his squad to a fourth place finish in the ECAC regular season standings with a 13-8-1 record. R.P.I. was set to take on No. 8 Colgate in the second round of the ECAC tournament before the season was shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout his college career, Reilly remained healthy and a consistent presence in the R.P.I. lineup. He played 139 career games at the NCAA level, posting 68 points and set a career high in all offensive categories during his senior season in 2019-20.
While Reilly showed improvement with each passing season at R.P.I., that improvement will need to continue once he embarks on his first professional season in 2020-21. These next two years in the Penguins organization will all be about development for Reilly and the Penguins will be closely evaluating him just to see what they have in the young defenseman.
As a seventh round pick, Reilly’s odds of becoming an NHL regular have always been a long shot, but now he’s a pro, and as John Marino proved this past season, talent can come from the most unlikely places.
Given how depleted the Penguins system is at defense, the organization can’t be too picky when it comes developing young talent at the position right now. Any positives from Reilly this season should be taken as a good sign and hope he continues to develop the more experience he gets.