He may not be the team captain, but Morgan Rielly is definitely a leader for the Maple Leafs. His journey to the Maple Leafs started in west Vancouver. I take a look at his journey from the Hollyburn Huskies to Maple Leafs.
From a very young age Rielly was always playing shinny with the older kids. Sometimes when his dad Andy was ready to go home, he had to wait for Rielly to finish. When he got a bit older he began playing for the Hollyburn Huskies, a team his dad helped coach. It was at this point that Rielly’s dad could see the intensity his son played with. That intensity would help Rielly throughout his career.
Between 2008 – 2010, Rielly would play for the Notre Dame Hounds in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMHL). During his second year with the Hounds, Rielly was named team captain. He collected 55 points that year in 43 games played. He also collected 9 points in 13 playoff games.
In the 2010-11 season Rielly would begin his junior career playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL). His first season for the Warriors was not a very good one. He recorded 28 points in 65 games, but had a plus/minus rating of -15. Rielly’s second season was derailed by injuries which only allowed him to play 18 games. Although he only played in just 18 games, he recorded 18 points and was a +6. Before his third year with the Warriors, Rielly was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2012 National Hockey League (NHL) draft. The third and final year of junior for Rielly saw big improvement in his game. He would record 54 points in 60 games which made the Maple Leafs look good for drafting him 5th overall.
Rielly would have to wait until the end of the 2012-13 season with the Warriors before his pro career could get started. Once the Warriors season was finished, Rielly immediately joined the Toronto Marlies on the American Hockey League (AHL). He recorded 3 points in 14 regular season games and a point in 8 playoff games for the Marlies.
Rielly would begin his NHL career in the 2013-14 season. He played 73 games in his rookie season and finished with 27 points. He followed that up with 29 points in his sophomore season and 36 points in his third. Rielly would have to wait until his fourth season in the NHL before getting a taste of the NHL playoffs. His first taste of NHL playoff hockey ended after just six games, when the Maple Leafs lost to the Washington Capitals. He had five points in those six games.
Since his first NHL season, Rielly has continued to improve every season. His point totals have continued to go up. Last season many people were even mentioning his name in consideration for the Norris Trophy for best defenseman. Rielly and the Maple Leafs have now reached the NHL playoffs three seasons in a row, but never seem to get passed the first round. Both the team and Rielly will be looking to do better this season.
Morgan Rielly is an important core piece on the Maple Leafs and will be for the foreseeable future. As he matures, let us hope that both he and the team find better success in the years to come.