Rielly ready to put best foot forward at combine

Matthew Gourlie
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Morgan Rielly celebrates after he scored a goal against the Regina Pats. Times-Herald file photo

It may be the world’s best job interview, but for Morgan Rielly, the interviews at the NHL combine are starting to feel a little like Groundhog Day.

Not that he minds in the slightest.

The fitness testing part of the combine begins today, but the Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman had already spoken to half of the teams in the National Hockey League.

The hot topic of conversation in each and every interview? Rielly’s surgically repaired right knee.

So, how is the knee feeling Morgan?

“It’s healed. It’s all better. I couldn’t really ask for anything more,” said Rielly from Toronto. “It’s where it was before the injury.

“There’s been a whole lot of questions about how it’s doing and that kind of stuff, but it’s to be expected.”

Rielly tore the ligaments in his knee on Nov. 6 game against the Calgary Hitmen after former teammate Joe Kornelsen checked him hard into the post while Rielly cut to the net at high speed. Rielly had surgery on Dec. 1 and  began the long road to recovery.

He worked tirelessly to get back in time for the start of the WHL Eastern Conference final on Apr. 20. He collected three assists in the five-game loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I had to put in a lot of hard work, but I’m pretty happy with the place I’m at now,” said Rielly who had three goals and 18 points in 18 regular season games before the injury.

Rielly said he was happy with how he felt when he returned to the ice, but obviously he wished the team had enjoyed more success.

The injury has seemingly done little to hurt his draft stock. He has been ranked in the top-10 on most observers lists during the season and has been in some top-fives. That makes him a popular interview subject in Toronto which is making for some long days.

“I had pretty much a full day of meeting with teams,” said Rielly who met with eight teams Tuesday and another eight on Wednesday.

“The meetings have been going really well. It’s been an interesting process, but I’ve been happy with them.”

The rigours of the testing at the combine are well documented, but Rielly will take part in all of the tests and is confident he’s ready for the challenge.

“I’ve been training a lot and trying get on the ice. I feel pretty good,” said the 18-year-old West Vancouver product.

Fellow Warriors defenceman Travis Brown and Shayne Gwinner are not attending the combine, but both were ranked by Central Scouting in their list of draft eligible North American skaters. Brown was 89th in the final rankings and Gwinner was ranked 158th in the midterm rankings. Rielly was ranked fifth in both the midterm and final rankings despite his injury.

The NHL draft will be held June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.

Organizations: NHL, Edmonton Oil Kings, North American

Geographic location: Toronto, West Vancouver, Pittsburgh

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