Morgan Rielly not playing for Canada at world juniors
Maple Leafs keeping 19-year-old defenceman
Morgan Rielly will be watching the world junior hockey championship from North America later this month, not participating with the Canadian squad in Malmo, Sweden.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager David Nonis announced Wedneseday in a news release prior to the NHL’s Christmas roster freeze at midnight ET that the team would be keeping the 19-year-old defenceman rather than loaning him to Team Canada.
Rielly has one goal and 10 points in 27 games with the Maple Leafs this season and averaged 17 minutes 58 seconds of ice time per game.
Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba is the only teenaged NHL player that has been loaned to the Canadian national junior team.
Perhaps Wednesday's announcement will calm Rielly, who seemed somewhat bothered by the attention he was receiving about the world juniors.
"It's been crazy. It'll be nice to have the questions stop about whether I'm staying or going to Team Canada," Rielly told reporters earlier this week. "I pretty much have been getting asked about it every day."
Rielly may have made the decision for the Maple Leafs easier by scoring his first goal as an NHL player in Monday's 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh.
Rielly's 41st shot of his brief NHL career found the short side, beating Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and igniting an emotional celebration as Rielly skated to the Toronto bench.
He played 19:38 in Tuesday's loss to Florida, Rielly's fifth consecutive outing after sitting four of six contests.
Rielly was drafted fifth overall by Toronto in the 2012 NHL draft. He made it a point over the off-season to remain with the Maple Leafs instead of going back to junior with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.