Leafs won't give up Rielly for world juniors

Morgan Rielly won't be headed to Sweden as a member of Team Canada. (QMI Agency)

Morgan Rielly won't be headed to Sweden as a member of Team Canada. (QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:08 PM ET

TORONTO - With nearly 20 minutes of ice time on Tuesday night while Jake Gardiner spent time on the bench, it was clear the Maple Leafs still have a place for rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly.

So general manager Dave Nonis ended the speculation on Wednesday morning, announcing that the 19-year-old will be staying on the NHL roster and not loaned to Team Canada for the world junior tournament getting underway next week in Malmo, Sweden.

With the Leafs in a mid-season funk, many thought Rielly would be better off out of the harsh Leaf spotlight and in a winning environment, at least early in the tourney. He’d be taking a leadership role as a returning player on the national squad. But though he has made mistakes in thre NHL, he has been more reliable and co-operative with head coach Randy Carlyle than Gardiner.

After Tuesday’s loss to Phoenix, Rielly has 10 points in 27 games and is a minus-12. At times, Carlyle has used him in tandem with Gardiner, knowing they are capable of daring rushes and in most cases, have the speed to get back.

Rielly passed a major test early in the year when the Leafs kept him beyond 10 games, using up one year of his entry level contract. It remains to be seen how he’ll be utilized in the 2014 portion of the schedule, with his ice time upgraded or if the Leafs bring in some veteran help from the farm or via trade.


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