Sep 5, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
Morgan Rielly has lofty aspirations heading into this season.
“My expectations for myself are pretty high,” Rielly told CBC.ca. “Obviously my goal is the make the Leafs this year. I’ve been training hard and I’ve been on the ice a lot.
“My goal is to play in Toronto this year.”
Rielly, 19, was the club’s first-round pick (fifth overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, putting him among the elite in the deepest defensive draft the league has seen in years.
Eight blueliners went in the first 10 picks, with only Columbus’ Ryan Murray (second overall) and the Islanders’ Griffin Reinhart (fourth) going higher.
Rielly also got a taste for NHL hockey during Toronto’s abbreviated training camp last season before being sent back to WHL Moose Jaw. Leafs GM Dave Nonis praised Rielly’s play, but said the youngster’s lack of game experience (there were no exhibitions last season) and Toronto’s defensive depth were the deciding factors.
The latter part of that explanation, though, has changed.
Holzer fell out of the rotation last year and didn’t dress after Mar. 16; Liles only played 32 games and was a healthy scratch in the playoffs; Ranger hasn’t played an NHL contest since 2009-10.
So you can see why Rielly — who played 14 regular-season and eight playoff games with the AHL Marlies — is now gunning for a gig with the Leafs.
“I’ll just try to play my game, play with confidence,” he explained. “Hopefully I’ll be able to make a good impression.”
- Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal 3
- Eller, Habs agree to four-year, $14 million contract 10
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 6
- Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016 28
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 45
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 39
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
- Advancement? Leafs sign Booth for one year, $1.1M 25
- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 30
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 69
- Babcock fires back over allegations that free agents avoid him (77)
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (69)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)
- Lucic regrets handshake-line actions, but isn’t apologizing (58)
- Report: O’Reilly wants $6.7M deal, Avs counter at $5.5M (58)