BUFFALO - Team Canada's loss will be the Maple Leafs' gain.
An NHL blueline that needs all the help it can get at this point in the season means Toronto rookie Morgan Rielly will not be part of the world junior team that will travel to Sweden over the Christmas holidays.
Instead, QMI Agency has learned that when the selection camp roster is announced on Monday, the 19-year-old defenceman, a first-round pick in 2012, will not be released by the Leafs to represent Canada for a second consecutive season.
"I'd say he's a big part of this group right here, right now and we don't see that changing at this point," Leafs vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin said on Friday. "That's the way we're looking at it."
Poulin wouldn't confirm that Rielly will not be made available to coach Brent Sutter and the Canadian team, but his comments are revealing.