With the World Juniors looming and the National Hockey League labour talks hitting a crucial stage, Morgan Rielly’s immediate future is in limbo.
Thursday, the Warriors star 18-year-old defenceman got one certainty — general manager Alan Millar stated unequivocally that he would not trade Rielly this season.
“We can have as many inquiries as we want, Morgan Rielly will not be traded this year,” said Millar. “I’m not going to go back on my word in terms of the decision that we’ve made on Morgan Rielly.”
Millar said that the on-going NHL labour negotiations has limited the interest in Rielly. With the potential of Rielly being called into camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs and possibly staying up with the team at a moments notice, the interest in a deal is maybe not what some people would perceive.
When asked about Jordan Eberle — who played his final two seasons in Regina for a team that didn’t make the playoffs and wasn’t traded — Millar said the key difference is that Rielly is still 18 this season.
“Morgan is 18 years old. In some of those other 19-year-old situations it was 100 per cent that the player was not going to come back,” said Millar. “Do we anticipate that Morgan has a very good chance to play in Toronto next year? Yes. Can we ever say for sure that he’s going to? No.
“Our position is that he’s a Warrior; he’s going to be here for the rest of the year. In the event that Morgan Rielly plays in the NHL next year we’re very happy that he’s doing it as a Moose Jaw Warrior.”
Rielly is expecting to leave for the Canadian World Junior camp following Saturday’s home game against the Spokane Chiefs.
While Wednesday’s optimism on the NHL labour front quickly turned sour Thursday, Rielly — like most hockey fans — has been following the talks, but isn’t letting it distract him.
“Obviously I watch a lot of TV and it’s always on Sportscentre and whatnot,” said Rielly. “I’m not too worried about what is going on with the NHLPA and all of that stuff. I’m trying to concentrate on playing here in Moose Jaw and having a good camp with Team Canada.”