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. Poile moves to second on all-time GM wins list

    Dec 24, 2014, 8:59 PM EST

    David Poile AP

    Only Glen Sather is ahead of him.

  2. Overtime/shootout drama becoming the norm in Florida

    Dec 24, 2014, 7:51 PM EST

    Roberto Luongo Getty Images

    “It’s like a little miracle down here.”

  3. Scoring change gives Nash his first Rangers hat trick

    Dec 24, 2014, 6:40 PM EST

    Nash goal

    The goal was initially credited to Martin St. Louis.

  4. Hextall impressed by Zepp, but cautious when predicting his future

    Dec 24, 2014, 5:54 PM EST

    Rob Zepp Getty Images

    Will he eventually earn a full-time NHL roster spot?

  5. Lightning returns top goalie prospect Vasilevskiy to AHL

    Dec 24, 2014, 4:31 PM EST

    Andrei Vasilevskiy Getty Images

    His stint with the Lightning was brief, but memorable.

  6. Video: PHT’s top five moments from 2014

    Dec 24, 2014, 3:28 PM EST

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Getty Images

    Not surprisingly, the Kings feature prominently.

  7. Scott suspended four games for punch that was ‘neither predictable, nor acceptable’

    Dec 24, 2014, 2:22 PM EST

    San Jose Sharks v Anaheim Ducks Getty Images

    League rules that Jackman wasn’t expecting to be punched, “nor should he be.”

  8. Sens take next step towards new downtown arena

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:23 PM EST

    Eugene Melnyk Getty Images

    Owner Eugene Melnyk has called the potential move a “game-changer.”

  9. Is Loui Eriksson starting to get it together?

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:18 AM EST

    LouiEriksson Getty Images

    “We’re seeing some of his best hockey,” Claude Julien said.

  10. ‘Las Vegas is a hockey city,’ Foley tells prospective ticket buyers

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:18 AM EST

    LasVegasHockey

    And they’re planning to start taking deposits for the 2016-17 season.

  11. Avs ultimately plan on sending Pickard back to AHL

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:24 AM EST

    Calvin Pickard AP

    Semyon Varlamov’s shutout probably makes that a more comfortable idea.

  12. Sabres aren’t happy with league’s decision regarding Bartkowski

    Dec 24, 2014, 9:43 AM EST

    Matt Bartkowski, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta AP

    A controversial check left Buffalo winger Brian Gionta injured.

  13. Jagr: ‘A break? I don’t believe in this’

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:30 AM EST

    Jaromir Jagr Getty Images

    The Devils enter the Christmas holidays on a two-game skid.

  14. Tyler Johnson’s hat trick leads Lightning over Penguins

    Dec 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EST

    Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning Getty Images

    Tampa rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his second career win.

  15. Leafs reach 20 win mark in victory over Stars

    Dec 23, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 10: Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs sprays water on his face during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on March 10, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Getty Images

    Bernier made 43 saves for the shutout

Featured video

Holiday wish lists for NHL teams
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Bishop (2755)
  2. S. Crosby (2445)
  3. B. Elliott (2280)
  4. C. Perry (2246)
  5. J. Howard (1871)
  1. J. Schwartz (1850)
  2. S. Varlamov (1772)
  3. S. Mason (1737)
  4. T. Johnson (1665)
  5. S. Weiss (1569)