Canada’s number one junior defenseman and the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has injured his shoulder which will require season-ending surgery. Enter Morgan Rielly.
Ryan Murray out means the defensemen on the roster each move up a spot. With Rielly as a common starter on the second pairing of defense and a powerplay specialist, his role should be dramatically increased with the absence of Canada’s top man.
The Maple Leafs prospect, drafted 5th overall, has shown impressive touch in his games in the Canada-Russia Challenge this summer, as well as the Subway Super Series that just concluded.
Rielly finished the four-game challenge with an impressive four points, one goal and three assists. More importantly, he brought an electric two-way dynamic to the game. His offensive prowess made him stand out among the crowd and he was a constant threat on the lethal Canadian powerplay. He was the assistant captain for the WHL in the Super Series, which only salvaged three goals in two games versus Russia, and was held off the scoresheet with a -1 rating.
Before Canadians begin to panic over losing the highest ranked junior defenseman in hockey, Canada’s defensive corps will remain a powerhouse on the international stage. Returning talent includes Dougie Hamilton and Scott Harrington. Those two dominant veterans to the international stage along with the likes of Griffin Reinhart, Rielly, Matthew Dumba, Derrick Pouliot and Slater Koekkoek, being all Canadian defensemen drafted in the Top 10 in the draft this summer, will make a strong case for their spot on the roster. Xavier Ouellet and Cody Ceci are also expected to go deep in camp this winter.
Ryan Murphy is also coming off an outstanding Canada-Russia Challenge, tying Rielly for the lead in scoring among defenseman. So yes, Canada has lost some experience and leadership with the injury to Murray, but there appears to be no shortage of talent and potential on the Canadian blueline.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Team Sweden won’t be feeling sorry for Team Canada’s injury, as they’re expected to be without elite defensemen Oscar Klefbom and Jonas Brodin.
As in the case of any injury in sports, this especially, could be the door opening for exciting young talent within Hockey Canada to blossom under the spotlight. Adding to the excitement of the World Junior Hockey Championship this year, the NHL lockout will have virtually every hockey fan craving to watch.
The WJHC is never short on excitement anyways, but the lockout is expected to bring a lot of attention to this year’s tournament. Stars are born under the lights.