On Friday afternoon the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that the club had signed first rounder and top draft pick Morgan Rielly to a three-year, entry-level deal.
The 18-year-old was selected fifth overall by the Maple Leafs on June 22 at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.
The six-foot-one, 200 pound defenseman tallied 18 points in 18 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League last season. Rielly has played 83 career games with the Warriors, but after suffering an unfortunate ACL injury this past season, his draft ranking and season was in trouble.
Rielly didn’t let the injury slow him down. He worked extremely hard in rehabilitating his knee so he could come back and begin to play solid hockey. He then had surgery on the knee in December, which he ended up recovering from rather quickly.
Before Rielly’s injury he was a point-per-game player and quickly found himself flying up in the draft ranks. When he was cleared to play, Rielly found himself in five playoff games for the Warriors.
Having drafted Rielly, it brought something to look forward to on the Leafs’ defense. We all know the Leafs’ defense isn’t as strong as they need it to be, but Rielly could potentially be a top defender in the NHL and possibly with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If Rielly stays healthy this upcoming season he could be a ten-plus goal scorer with 20 points from the blue line.
If you talk to any NHL scout they would instantly compare Rielly’s game to something you’d see from Ottawa Senator Erik Karlsson.
“Morgan Rielly might have the most high end offensive potential of any defenceman in this draft. Before his injury he was scoring at a point per game pace for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. Rielly is an absolutely elite skater, and is in the conversation with Matt Dumba for the best skater in this draft class. His speed is off the charts, he uses his edges effectively, he has a great first step and quick acceleration, and his pivots and changes of direction are quick and crisp. His skating is already at a level that would leave many NHLers in his dust.” – Last Word On Sports
A few things Rielly needs to do to insure that he will be an elite NHL defenseman are stay healthy in every way and put on some muscle to play a more physical game. We all know that head coach Randy Carlyle doesn’t want his guys playing a soft game, so Rielly needs some more weight/muscle.
Something that gets me every time I watch Rielly play is the speed that he can produce. It’s amazing to see such a young kid play with such great speed and offensive skill.
The Leafs banked in a great young talented player and we’re all looking forward to seeing what can bring to the table for the Leafs.
Follow Dale on Twitter @TMLNewsRumors.