Morgan Rielly has been an NHL draftee for roughly two months and he is already grabbing the attention of many hockey scouts and writers. So much, in fact, that Rielly’s status with the Toronto Maple Leafs appears to be improving.
While it was never thought Rielly had a bad relationship with the Leafs─there’s no reason to believe he did─no one knew and still no one knows for sure if he will start the 2012-13 season with the team, no matter when it begins. The two main reasons for this were, of course, the Leafs’ poor history with rushing players into the NHL (Luke Schenn being one example) and Rielly’s knee injury.
But now it’s the strong praise for the 18-year-old that has many thinking the opposite, stating that he should be a member of the Leafs’ roster right from the get-go.
Here are just a few examples:
Based on what I’ve seen to date I rate Morgan Rielly is a better prospect than Ryan Murray. #Leafs
— David Staples (@dstaples) August 17, 2012
Morgan Rielly’s skating reminds me of Paul Coffey. A treat to watch, a burden to play against.
— Kelly Friesen (@KellyFriesen) August 14, 2012
Looking over some of the NHL combine results. Morgan Rielly scored very high in a bunch of ‘em.
— Cam Charron (@camcharron) August 21, 2012
Better than Ryan Murray? Well, that might be a bit of a stretch considering Murray went second overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets after some were calling for the Edmonton Oilers to take him at number one. Whether Rielly is more talented than Murray or not doesn’t really matter to the Maple Leafs right now, though. All they need to worry about is Rielly’s development, not that of any prospect unaffiliated with the Leafs.
So it’s time for the great debate to begin; should the Leafs welcome Rielly into the lineup this season or not?
Keep in mind that Randy Carlyle and Brian Burke also have the option to go to Jesse Blacker or Korbinian Holzer, both of whom are expected to make an impact in training camp. Playing in Rielly’s favour is the fact that neither Blacker nor Holzer have much NHL experience either─Blacker hasn’t appeared in an NHL game while Holzer has suited up in the big league just twice.
It’s clear the Maple Leafs must be very cautious when it comes to making a decision on Rielly. After electing to play Schenn in the NHL immediately after selecting him fifth overall in 2008, his career in Toronto went from promising to disappointing rather quickly.
With the playoffs a distant memory in Toronto, the same thing cannot happen to Morgan Rielly.
Lukas is the Managing Editor of Maple Leafs Central. Follow him on Twitter @LukasHardonk, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.