By Jesse Watts – whl.ca
Calgary, AB – Leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22 and 23, WHL.ca and WHL Web TV, will highlight six WHL players who are highly ranked by NHL Central Scouting leading up to draft day. This week’s featured WHL player is Moose Jaw Warriors’ offensively gifted defencemen Morgan Rielly.
Morgan Rielly completed his second season in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The 18-year-old from Vancouver, B.C., missed all but 18 regular-season games due to a knee injury suffered in November, but still managed three goals and 18 points. He rejoined the Warriors for the Husky Eastern Conference championship series in late April, netting three assists in five games as the Warriors fell to the eventual WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.
Blessed with outstanding speed and skating ability, Rielly is a thrilling offensive talent. His poise and patience with the puck, coupled with terrific vision and passing ability, make Rielly a potential future power play quarterback. His speed, agility and puckhandling skills enable him to make dazzling rushes up ice with the puck and create offensive chances by joining the rush. As good as he is offensively, Rielly is very effective in his own zone, with good awareness, positioning and compete level.
“He’s a special player,” said Warriors’ director of hockey operations Alan Millar. “The first thing that stands out is his skating, his great mobility and great speed. When you couple that with a high hockey IQ and very strong puck skills, and you have the makings of a great player.
Despite being injured for most of the season, Rielly hasn’t seen his draft stock decline.
“I think many NHL personnel feel that he won’t slip down the rankings because they have seen enough of him to know what he brings to the table,” said Millar.
Rielly played for Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2011 World Under-18 championship tournament, and also helped Canada’s Under-18 team win Gold at the 2011 Memorial for Ivan Hlinka tournament. Rielly also played for Team Pacific in the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Rielly was selected to play for Team WHL in the 2011 SUBWAY Super Series but could not participate due to his injury. He also played for Team B.C. in the inaugural WHL Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup in 2009.
Did you know…Rielly captained his Midget AAA team, the Notre Dame Hounds, to the Telus Cup national Midget championship in 2010. He posted 55 points for the Hounds that season, and was the team’s co-MVP.