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Morgan Rielly

Welcome to the Playoffs, Awards, and Injury Ward edition of the Leafs Prospect Update!

Starting with the bad news, Erie Captain and surprise statistical standout Connor Brown suffered a head injury (read: concussion) against London on the 18th and missed this weekend’s games.  Erie is well out of the playoff mix and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown sit out the rest of the year to recover — it’s probably what’s best for him in the long run.

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Randy Carlyle

It appears, to some degree, the waiver issues prevented the Leafs from giving Morgan Rielly a five-game look, but circumstances as they are, it makes a lot more sense to send down Rielly now than risk losing Mike Kostka or Mark Fraser to waivers before they’re given a look in some NHL games. It was highly unlikely the Leafs would’ve let him stay for longer, burning a year of his ELC, so why risk assets for a teaser?

At this point in time, it is probably fair to call Morgan Rielly the most hyped Leafs prospect since Wendel Clark. I don’t know whether or not that’s fair, but with great hype comes great expectations.

To this point, Rielly hasn’t done anything to really quash the excitement that is building for him. He’s scored electric goals, he’s played well for Canada in the past, and now he’s on the World Juniors team.

In essence, Rielly is following the path of many elite defensemen before him. With that in mind, I collected some stats on how players he’s been compared to have performed in this tournament. Hopefully, it will serve as some sort of barometer on what to expect from the young Leafs prospect.

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 Friday Night I had the opportunity to take in the Edmonton Oil Kings game.  Their opponent just so happened to be the Moose Jaw Warriors and one Morgan Rielly. The Oil Kings proceeded to pummel the Warriors 5-1 and by the end of the second the shot total was 30-10 for the Oil Kings. As you can imagine, this doesn’t lead to a glowing review of Rielly or the Warriors in general.

My notes on Rielly below reflect what I witnessed in what clearly a lackluster night for him. They may seem harsh, but it doesn’t change the fact that I believe that Rielly will soon be the top unit powerplay quarterback for the Leafs. The viewing did not change my prior concerns that he may not be a defensively sound player.

Also, a while back DefenseWinsChampionships penned this thoughtful piece on his viewing of Morgan Rielly. I’d encourage everyone to use that as a basis for comparison and I think it accurately captures a typical game Rielly puts up in the WHL.

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Morgan Rielly

From MLHS user DefenceWinsChampionships:

As some of you may already know, I got to see Morgan Rielly play last night in Regina. He scored Moose Jaw’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Pats. Here are some things I noticed throughout the night:

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@416_Musings has been taking in Leafs Prospect Camp and has posted a few notes over at his site, Draft Schmaft.

Morgan Rielly: As advertised. Competes with Tony Cameranesi for best skater award at camp. A multi-directional skater who gives the impression of his skates barely touching the ice surface. His pivots are smooth and effortless and Rielly has great lateral mobility. Rielly showed great hockey sense and vision in where he places himself, how he navigates through bodies, and how he chooses to attack the offensive zone. As Jim Hughes stated, his passes are hard and quick and in my opinion – at the pro-level. Rielly also sought out and found open lanes before shooting…enough about offence…what surprised me most was how well he played defence. His anticipation of plays created turnovers and he advanced the puck forward. In his own zone, Rielly showed patience as his slick turns kept defenders at bay. Rielly’s speed allows him to regain position in his own zone to handle one-on-one plays. After Stuart Percy, Rielly may have played the best defence today.

Tyler Biggs: The greatest improvement in Biggs’ play could be attributed to the skating work he has put in over the past month. Biggs seems to have more explosiveness and his diagonal cuts were sharp. Biggs found open ice for himself on several occasions. His wrist shot did not hit the net but had some heat to it. Played a physical game which should come as no surprise to anyone.

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Photo: Getty Images

It was quite the big weekend. I mean, how often do get a chance to sit around all day teaching your two year old nephew how to play hockey using his very first Maple Leafs mini-sticks? Oh, and apparently there was a draft and a couple of trades, too. I’ll do my best to offer some opinion, but a solid list of links will pick up where I left off and satisfy our hunger for seeing the Leafs roster evolve from the dogs breakfast into something at least comparable to Alphagetti with meatballs.

With the fifth pick in the 2012 draft, the Maple Leafs are proud to select…

Alright, if you check my twitter timeline on Friday night it’s very clear that I was more than a little upset that a skilled forward was not selected. I was listening to the draft on the radio while driving home from work, and the second that Griffin Reinhart was picked by the Islanders I assumed it was a foregone conclusion that we would see Filip Forsberg in a Leafs uniform. Am I still upset by this? Yes. Does this mean I think that Morgan Rielly is a crap prospect? Not at all.

Morgan Rielly is a Canadian defenseman who played his junior career for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. This 18 year old, 6 ft, 190 lb defenseman was born in West Vancouver and was Moose Jaw’s second overall selection in the WHL Bantam Draft.

His honors include a bronze medal in the World U-17 Hockey Challenge and a selection to the 2011 Subway Super Series. Rielly’s season was cut short by a torn ACL as the D-man played only 18 games for the Warriors scoring 18 points during that stretch, including 3 goals. We needed to add some more mobility on the back end and we got it now.