Great stories come from great opportunities. That’s sort of how Herb Brooks put it. And that is what the Toronto Maple Leafs hope will happen with their top prospect Morgan Rielly.
An injury to Mark Fraser in Philly on Wednesday means a spot has opened up for Rielly and it starts Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. There is no better time than the present to show people he needs to stay.
Leafs management and coaching staff have been debating whether or not to keep the kid up with the NHL club or send him back to junior. If you ask me, they have every intention of keeping him up here if he can handle it. They didn’t send down two, one-way contracts in John-Michael Liles and Korbinian Holzer just to make room — they need cap relief. What better way to fit under the cap then with a young prospect’s smaller salary who can hold his own on the blue line?
Ultimately, Morgan Rielly controls his own fate. If he can help add skilled depth, keep the mistakes manageable and fix the ones he makes, he’ll be here to stay. Is it worth it? Of His upside says yes.
If Rielly goes out and has a rookie season like Jake Gardiner, no one who thinks the Leafs should be cautious with his development will care much anymore. If his season is more like Gardiner’s sophomore campaign, we’ll all say it was a mistake.
But that’s getting too far ahead. What Rielly has is a chance to take his own spot on the blue line and keep it for good. He doesn’t have to be the savior, he just needs to seem like he belongs, and that alone will be a feat.
If you ask me, the Leafs blue line hasn’t been much to write home about to this point, despite the teams 2-0 start, so how much more could it hurt? But should Rielly seize the opportunity and put on a show – the Leafs, their fans and rivals will all know it was worth keeping the kid up.
It’s show time in T.O.
The Leafs have also recalled forward Jamie Devane from the Toronto Marlies to replace Frazer McLaren who is sidelined with a broken pinky finger. Devane is most notable for breaking Sabres’ forward Corey Tropp’s jaw in the fight that preceded the bench clearing brawl when the two teams met in the preseason.