Skip to content

Prized prospect Rielly: ‘My goal is to make the Leafs this year’

Sep 5, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT

Morgan Rielly AP

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.

Several of the guys ahead of Rielly last season are now gone. Mike Kostka signed in Chicago, Mike Komisarek was bought out, Ryan O’Byrne jumped to the KHL and Cody Franson remains unsigned.

At the time of writing, Toronto had seven defensemen under contract for next season — Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Mark Fraser, Jake Gardiner, Korbinian Holzer, John-Michael Liles and Paul Ranger.

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.”

Latest Posts
  1. Canes coach Peters making tweaks with emphasis on being more dangerous offensively

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    They were near the bottom of the league in that regard last season.

  2. Eichel planning to move in with Moulson

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    “The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is.”

  3. St. Louis offers Upshall a professional tryout

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT

    Scottie Upshall Getty Images

    The Blues have a vacancy with Patrik Berglund out for at least four months.

  4. Crosby, Toews, Weber, Price lead pack in NHL 16’s ratings

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    A few players have leapfrogged Steven Stamkos.

  5. Marchand rehabbing from offseason elbow surgery

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    Brad Marchand Getty Images

    He played through the injury in 2014-15.

  6. Flyers bring back tough guy Rosehill on AHL deal

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Chris Thorburn #22 of the Winnipeg Jets fights with Jay Rosehill #37 of the Philadelphia Flyers during third period in a game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Philadelphia Flyers on April 6, 2013 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
(April 5, 2013 - Source: Marianne Helm/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    He spent all of last season with Lehigh Valley.

  7. Marcel Goc signs in German League

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v St. Louis Blues Getty Images

    Veteran forward heads overseas after appearing in 600-plus NHL contests.

  8. Domi: I just want to make the Coyotes

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Max Domi Getty Images

    He’s got plenty of potential, but he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

  9. Lucic jokes about running through Rask ‘like I did (to) another goalie’

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:22 PM EDT

    Milan Lucic AP

    His first game against Boston is scheduled for Feb. 9.

  10. Success for McDavid isn’t purely a numbers game

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Connor McDavid AP

    The start of his rookie campaign is approaching.

  11. Hitch finds silver lining in Berglund injury

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Patrik Berglund Getty Images

    Who will take advantage of the opening?

  12. Neuvirth cites Voracek as his reason for joining Flyers

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game Five Getty Images

    The two have previously played together on the Czech national team.

  13. Hurricanes add Ray Whitney, three others to scouting staff

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Jeff Daniels Getty Images

    Former coach Jeff Daniels is also staying within the organization after being relieved of his AHL coaching duties.

  14. Poll: Will Seabrook re-sign?

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT

    Brent Seabrook Getty Images

    You can expect this question to be asked throughout the year.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1621)
  2. P. Kane (1589)
  3. M. Richards (1364)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1210)
  5. N. Backstrom (1097)