The TLN Roundtable is back! Every week, we’ll pose a Leafs-related question to our writers, gather the various opinions, post the answers, and create internal tension and hatred amongst us. Then you, the reader, get to tell us how wrong we are in the comments!
This week’s question…
Should Morgan Rielly be loaned to Canada’s World Junior team?
I think that Rielly should be allowed to go. As good as he’s been so far this season, Rielly’s absence wouldn’t be the reason why the Leafs would lose games while he’s gone. Also, Rielly has only suited up for 22 of the Leafs’ 29 games so far – he’s sitting out every fourth game. Would the Leafs really be significantly worse with another defender in his place? Hell, they beat Dallas without him in the lineup. Rielly is going to be a star one day, but he’s not a game-breaker at this point in his career.
It’d also just be fun to watch him dominate. By my estimation, Rielly would be Team Canada’s top defenceman, a shoe-in for a leadership role, and the quarterback of what should be one of the tournament’s top power plays. Maybe this is a little too romantic a thought, but would Rielly not benefit long-term from a gold medal run? Would he not gain confidence from being one of the best players on the ice? It certainly wouldn’t hurt to send him to Malmo and find out.
You know what? Yes, the Leafs should let Rielly go.
If anything, this will give the Leafs a chance to do the right thing and call up John-Michael Liles, which they did. They can showcase him, and if he gets dealt it’s a big relief on the cap. That or he’ll be really good and they can keep him, although Randy Carlyle has "already made up his mind" on Liles according to Bob McKenzie. Hell, recall T.J. Brennan or Stuart Percy and see what they’re made of. Anything but this Fraser-Ranger pairing right now. It’s a tire fire. I would never wish an injury on anybody, and Tyler Bozak hasn’t been bad this season, but it took a long-term injury to Bozak for Kadri to finally get his shot with the top line. What’s the saying? "Necessity is the mother of invention." Not having Rielly for a few weeks might allow the Leafs to discover a gem within their own system, or at very least help them realize how much they miss Rielly.
I think Rielly should definitely stay with the Leafs because they can afford better equipment, particularly helmets. If he goes to this youth tournament everyone keeps talking about, Doctor Carlyle can’t monitor his brain temperature and I feel like that’s an unnecessary risk considering he’s such a promising prospect for the Leafs. If he runs into concussion troubles, I really don’t want to be the guy to say "I told you so" but we’ll see how it all plays out.