Leafs Roster Preview – Morgan Rielly

I have a hard time containing my enthusiasm when I talk about Morgan Rielly. Just 20 years old and coming off a great rookie season, Rielly has all of the tools required to become one of most talented blueliners in the NHL. It just probably won’t happen this year.

Last Season

Rielly had a great year, cracking the Leafs’ roster and sticking in the NHL despite many, myself included, thinking he’d be on his way back to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. There was no reason to rush Rielly into the NHL, but it turned out to have nothing to do with that – Rielly had a good camp, and he earned his spot. 

Suiting up for 73 games, Rielly scored two goals and 27 points while averaging 17:38 in ice time per game (fifth amongst Leaf defenders). Say what you will about Randy Carlyle’s deployment, but Rielly was handled properly for a first-year player, and was effective in the time he was given. 

Best of all, Rielly was consistently pushing the play in the right direction, despite the major disadvantage of being a Toronto Maple Leaf.

rielly rel corsi

This Season

It might be Rielly’s sophomore year, but I don’t anticipate a slump. Rielly should build on last year, but it’s unfair to expect him to significantly increase his point production. If Rielly even matches his 27 points from last year, that’s still a success. A 30-35 point campaign would be fantastic. Only 50 defencemen in the NHL managed to crack 30 points last season. It isn’t an insignificant number.

To do that though, Rielly will have to overcome a numbers game on the blueline. With Dion Phaneuf locked in on the top pairing, Cody Franson returning for another season, Jake Gardiner looking to break out in a big way, and the additions of veterans Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak, Rielly will be in tough to secure a top four role. It might be another season or two before Rielly becomes the impact blueliner that many expect him to be.

Fantasy Value

There’s no denying Rielly’s skill. That being said, he’s not a high-end fantasy option just yet. Rielly will certainly get powerplay time, but he’ll have to share it with Phaneuf, Franson and Gardiner. The good news is that Rielly should be available in the later rounds of your draft, and he’d make for a solid 4th or spare defender in a 10 or 12 team league.

But hey, I’m just some schmuck. Head over to DailyFaceoff.com for the best fantasy advice around.

Highlights

  • oneil0216

    While the article mentions how Rielly has played thus far, what many fail to realize is that defense is probably the toughest position for a young player to grasp.

  • CMpuck

    I love reading Hfbtards bash Rielly for being soft in his own end or ‘not good defensively’ or projects absolute stiffs like Nurse ahead of Rielly while over looking the elephant in the room….

    Rielly is a PMD, a potential elite PMD is as rare a commodity as a true #1 center. Judging Rielly by anything other than his ability to possess the puck is to be willfully of what that type of players brings to the game. I don’t hear anyone criticize Doughty when he has a 36 point season, it’s not about his point totals…

  • Bertly83

    This would be a good time to mention that back in August on my Air Canada Rouge direct flight from Toronto to Tampa the two flight attendants in the main economy section were named Morgan and Reilly (obviously not spelled like his is).

    Good times.

  • STAN

    No doubt Rielly is teeming with skills, in the same vein as Kessel, JvR, Kadri and Gardiner. (That would be my starting power-play squad)

    The problem is teamwork. As a longtime (long suffering) Leafs fan I can’t remember a six season stretch (Wilson-Carlyle) in which the players usually play like they’ve never played together before.

    From bad passes to missed passes to missed assignments to running around aimlessly… it will all come down to coaching. This lot MUST find a system that works for what Nonis has given them.

    Sadly, Carlyle is management’s choice and I’m sure that choice will prove to be disastrous.

    The silver lining? Come on down Connor McDavid.

  • STAN

    man i can’t wait until he reaches his prime years. he will be a beast. i fully expect him to get 30 points this year and it’s possible that he will exceed 30 to maybe 35. him and jake on the blue line with maybe a percy/loov/nilsson/finn combination in the future sure looks great to me.