Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nineteen-year-old Morgan Rielly spent parts of three seasons making a name for himself in the Western Hockey League. Now, he’s beginning to move on to bigger and better things, starting with joining Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Rielly began his junior hockey career with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, joining the team in 2010 after playing midget AAA hockey with the Notre Dame Hounds. He made his WHL debut on September 24, 2010 in a game against the Swift Current Broncos.
At the age of just 17, he ended his rookie season in the WHL second among Warriors defensemen in scoring, with six goals and 22 assists for 28 points in 65 games. Overall, he was eighth on the team in points scoring and ranked fourth among rookie defensemen in the league.
Rielly scored his first WHL goal in a 6-3 victory over Kootenay on October 13, adding two assists for his first multi-point night.
His sophomore season in the WHL would see the young defensemen score 18 points in as many games before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. After months of rehab, Rielly was able to return to Moose Jaw for the playoffs, where he added three points in five games before the Warriors were eliminated by the eventual WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference finals.
Heading into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Riley was highly ranked at fifth among North American skaters, thanks to qualities including his creativity and ability to see plays on the ice that may not be on other players’ radar.
It was exactly there that he was selected, fifth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs – and just like that, the Vancouver native had an NHL home. After some uncertainty, it was confirmed that Rielly would return to Moose Jaw for the 2012-13 WHL season, in part due to the lack of an NHL season at that time.
He would have a productive season in terms of offense, scoring 54 points in 60 games. Rielly was fifth in defensive scoring in the WHL and third on the Moose Jaw squad, behind Sam Fioretti and Brayden Point.
When Moose Jaw failed to make the playoffs, Rielly was assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
He made his debut on March 22 against the Chicago Wolves and scored his first AHL goal in that night’s 4-3 loss.
To date, he has played three games in the AHL and has impressed many, taking 13 shots in that trio of games. He is expected to remain with the Marlies through the end of this season, and as for next season – well, anything is possible.
Morgan Rielly is an up-and-coming young defenseman with offensive production, creativity and good puck movement that will surely help him in his future in the AHL and soon enough in the NHL.