Maple Leafs’ Rielly Has Become One of the Best 2012 Draft Picks

When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted defenseman Morgan Rielly in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, it was throughout the first spherical, however he wasn’t one of the high 4 selections. Instead, he was the fifth draft selection made. The first 5 picks had been Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers), Ryan Murray (Columbus Blue Jackets), Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens), Griffin Reinhart (New York Islanders), and eventually Morgan Rielly (Maple Leafs). 

Draft Position Player Drafting Team
First Nail Yakupov Edmonton Oilers
Second Ryan Murray Columbus Blue Jackets
Third Alex Galchenyuk Montreal Canadiens
Fourth Griffin Reinhart New York Islanders
Fifth Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs

This week, as I used to be fascinated with Jack Campbell’s first NHL All-Star Game, I additionally thought-about that Morgan Rielly had by no means been an NHL All-Star. In my thoughts, Rielly deserves extra respect as a participant. This season, he’s clearly turn into the Maple Leafs’ high defenseman.

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

I can’t even think about if one other workforce selecting in entrance of the Maple Leafs had the foresight to have chosen Rielly earlier than one other one of the 4 gamers chosen earlier than him. It would have made an enormous distinction on the Maple Leafs’ workforce. 

Rielly Has Outperformed Almost Everyone in His Draft Class

Since Rielly was drafted fifth by the Maple Leafs in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he’s definitely outperformed the 4 who preceded him (Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, and Griffin Reinhart). 

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Yakupov had a pair of first rate seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, however has been again in the KHL since 2018. This season he has 26 factors in 43 video games for Omsk Avangard. Murray presently performs with the Colorado Avalanche and has 4 assists in 22 video games there as a depth defenseman.

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We know Galchenyuk’s story, he was with the Maple Leafs in 2020-21. After a comparatively unproductive season in 2021-22, he signed a contract the Colorado Avalanche the place’s principally performed in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Reinhart performed 37 NHL video games and not using a aim and two assists and most not too long ago performed for Belfast in the British Elite Ice Hockey League. It’s in all probability a superb life, but it surely isn’t in the NHL.

Rielly has performed extra NHL video games than some other participant from that draft class. Rielly is also the third-ranked scorer in that total draft class (with 405 factors), behind Filip Forsberg (511 factors) of the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl (440 factors).

Rielly Doesn’t Get the Respect Other Defensemen Get, But He’s Good

Rielly isn’t the offensive defenseman in the ilk of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar, or the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox, however he’s enjoying higher than some other season throughout his profession. He’s even on tempo for the finest season of his profession. 

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As his Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe famous, Morgan’s “game is in a really good spot, both sides of the puck. We talked about how his defending has improved and he’s keeping the play in front of him — he’s closing space really well — and he’s doing that without taking away from his offence.” (from “Leaf Morgan Rielly isn’t an NHL all-star, but his teammates make a pretty strong case, Kevin McGran, Toronto Star, 04/02/22).

Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In his article, McGran noted that some fans might wish Rielly were more physical, more offensive-minded, or even flashier. Perhaps the fact that he doesn’t stand out in any one aspect of the game is the cause for the fact that he’s generally been ignored for All-Star Game selection or even Norris Trophy voting. Rielly’s never been to a single NHL All-Star game and he’s only received 10 Norris Trophy votes since he came in fifth place in voting for the 2018-19 season.

Rielly Will Soon Become a Revered Maple Leafs’ Defenseman

Can Maple Leafs’ fans imagine Rielly on another NHL team? Can Oilers’ fans imagine Rielly on their team? At 29 years old, Rielly’s already sixth in Maple Leafs’ franchise history in games played for defensemen with 705. The great Jimmy Thomson is just ahead of him with 717 games. Rielly has also totaled 405 career points, which ranks fifth. The great Ian Turnbull is just above him in fourth with 414 points.

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Former Maple Leafs’ teammate Jason Spezza, who’s seen his share of great defensemen, noted in 2021-22 that Rielly is a “consummate pro. He came into this year … with the pressure of trying to make the Olympic team, the pressure of not having a contract beyond this year. And you wouldn’t have known that. He came in and was workmanlike.”

McGran made a key level in his article when he famous that “When all is said and done, Rielly may be as revered as Borje Salming or Tim Horton. He’ll get the chance with an eight-year, $60-million contract extension that kicks in next season.”

Borge Salming, defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Swedish-born skilled hockey participant Borge Salming, defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the ice throughout a sport, Eighties. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Given all that, even when Rielly doesn’t get the respect he would possibly deserve, can any considerate Maple Leafs’ fan even think about this – or some other – season’s workforce with out Rielly on it? In addition, he’s one of the true class acts on any NHL workforce wherever. 

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