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. Sabres’ Larsson says he’s proven what he can in AHL

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Johan Larsson Getty Images

    He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.

  2. NHLers hold charity games in Slovakia honoring Pavol Demitra

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Pavol Demitra Getty Images

    He died in the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in 2011.

  3. McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Connor McDavid Getty Images

    The NHL changed the process for the Draft Lottery on Wednesday.

  4. It’s all on Crosby, Malkin to make it work in Pittsburgh

    Aug 21, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen AP

    We know it’s not surprising, but just go along with it.

  5. Sakic on Giguere: ‘His achievements speak for themselves’

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Jean-Sebastien Giguere AP

    A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.

  6. Poll: Who makes up for James Neal’s goals in Pittsburgh?

    Aug 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin AP

    No one scored more Pens goals than he did the past three seasons.

  7. Agent: Bryzgalov ‘loved’ Minnesota, really wants to return

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2. Getty Images

    “He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities.”

  8. Bertuzzi lawyer: Settlement reached, Moore’s brother ‘does not know what he is talking about’

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Bertuzzi Moore

    “Nor is he very smart to have made untrue defamatory statements such as these.”

  9. Sounds like San Jose handled stripping Thornton’s captaincy really well

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    Joe Thornton Getty Images

    “I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains.”

  10. Under Pressure: Mike Johnston

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT

    Mike Johnston, Jim Rutherford, Rick Tocchet AP

    All the first-time NHL head coach has to do is get Pittsburgh to the promised land. No biggie.

  11. Looking to make the leap: Simon Despres

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT

    Simon Despres Getty Images

    The 23-year-old defenseman may get a real shot this season.

  12. Tanguay helped sell Iginla on Colorado

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Alex Tanguay Getty Images

    They were teammates in Calgary for two seasons.

  13. It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT

    Aug 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby Getty Images

    The pressure is on Sid and Geno now after a summer of change.

  14. Sens GM says they’re ‘definitely going to try to keep’ Bobby Ryan

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Craig Anderson, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Wiercioch AP

    He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

  15. ‘Canes GM Francis says Semin will be ready for training camp

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT

    Ron Francis Getty Images

    Recovery from offseason wrist surgery put things in doubt.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Hayes (2063)
  2. S. Crosby (1899)
  3. R. Johansen (1521)
  4. D. Alfredsson (1487)
  5. A. Ovechkin (1239)