Skip to content

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

Sep 5, 2013, 5:32 PM EST

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. Update: Stars’ Daley could miss ‘weeks’ after hit by Isles’ Martin

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:02 PM EST

    martindaley

    The frequent Islanders hitter has two long-ago suspensions.

  2. Report: Ben Bishop was hurt during warm-ups

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:24 PM EST

    Ben Bishop AP

    Tough start to Tuesday for goalies.

  3. Elias says Devils never approached him about a trade

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:29 PM EST

    Patrik Elias AP

    He says he’s happy to be in New Jersey.

  4. WATCH LIVE: Sabres at Lightning

    Mar 3, 2015, 6:29 PM EST

    Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    Could we see an upset or a blowout?

  5. Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul threaten lawsuit after tweet goes to air

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:33 PM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning Getty Images

    Incident occurred during TSN’s trade deadline day coverage.

  6. Giordano: Surgery is ‘my only option at this point’

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:58 PM EST

    giordanogetty Getty Images

    Flames captain was holding out hope for a “tiny chance” he could keep playing.

  7. Yandle ‘can’t find a weak flaw’ in Rangers’ lineup

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:25 PM EST

    Keith Yandle AP

    Making it “pretty cool to be a part of.”

  8. Cole arrives in Detroit, delivers Benn’s apology to Zetterberg

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:32 PM EST

    San Jose Sharks v Dallas Stars Getty Images

    Ex-Dallas winger could open up playing alongside the Detroit captain.

Featured video

Reactions from NHL trade deadline
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Giordano (3046)
  2. N. Horton (2792)
  3. K. Okposo (2699)
  4. F. Andersen (2585)
  5. H. Lundqvist (2543)
  1. T. Seguin (2495)
  2. H. Zetterberg (2165)
  3. T. Hall (2085)
  4. P. Sharp (1908)
  5. B. Wheeler (1780)