With the 2012 NHL Draft only a couple of days away, we are continuing to look at possible prospects the Dallas Stars are looking at with the 13th overall selection. I started with center Brendan Gaunce (read here), then I took some time to look at center Radek Faksa (right here), before covering Zemgus Girgensons last week (read up). Then I switched over to defensemen, looking at big prospect Cody Ceci (click here) and Finnish blueliner Olli Maatta (profile here). In each post I’ve been looking at the prospect, what he brings to the table, where he could go in the first round, and why the Stars should be looking at him. Be sure to Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussions and as always feel free to ask any hockey questions you might have!
Rielly presents an interesting option for teams in the top half of the first round. The 6’0″, 190-200 pound blueliner comes into the draft in a similar position to that of Alex Galchenyuk. Both talented players suffered from ACL injuries this season, hurting their stock and possibly bringing into question their durability in some eyes. But unlike Galchenyuk, Rielly had a chance to come back and showed that he is 100% ready to go for the next season. Morgan followed up an impressive midget season in 2009-2010 by putting in a 2010-2011 season that saw him score 28 points in 65 games. He quickly gained attention this season by starting the year off scoring 18 points in 18 games before the torn ACL sidelined him. But he fought back to get healthy and did appear in the Moose Jaw Warriors playoff series. Sadly they lost in five games, but Rielly managed to put up six points in that time and showed that he had truly recovered.
Offensively, Morgan Rielly is one of the best defensemen in the draft and worthy of a top 10-12 pick. He has speed and skating abilities that can only be listed as “dynamic” and “dangerous” by scouts. His mobility and quick first few steps make him a great asset at both ends of the ice, and often he can be the guy to start a rush from one end to the other. Combine that with great hands that help him as a powerplay quarterback and creative passer. If Ceci and definitely Maatta need to work on their pivots and feet in-close, than that weakness is a strength of his game. His instincts with the puck are stellar and his skating is already better than most NHL players. While he will need to work on his physical play and strength in his own end, that is common for a kid who is only 18. But even if he is out of position on a rush or shifting his focus in the defensive end, his feet can help him get back into position quickly and he can often get to pucks before anyone else.
” His speed is good with a dangerous top gear and Rielly can be especially impressive from a standstill with his acceleration, four-way mobility, and his elusive quickness. He can also really make things happen on a power play with his footwork and ability to maneuver in tight spaces. Rielly is a very skilled offensive player with plus puck skills and passing ability who can dangle an opponent out of his skates or thread a bullet pass through a tight lane. He creates a lot with his individual ability but much more so with his hockey sense and ability to control the flow. Rielly is very aware of his time and space and rarely seems pressured when making plays.” -Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
Why the Dallas Stars should draft him: Because any team that takes Rielly might have to wait another year or two after he lost most of one this season, but the reward at the end should be massive. He is possibly already the blueliner with the highest offensive potential in this draft class, and many scouts think if he hadn’t been injured he would be pushing for a top 5-6 draft pick come Friday. Imagine him and Jamie Oleksiak anchoring the blueline in a few years with a potentially better core in place, and that alone should sell many on why they could be eyeing Rielly this week.
He will be drafted around: The verdict is out. Some say that he will go in the 7th to 10th range, while others think Dumba, Murray, and Reinhart are safer picks right now and Rielly could slide a few picks where teams will debate him against Ceci, Maatta, and whatever forwards are there. Whoever does end up taking the Vancouver native should be excited though. Anywhere after 7th and he could be a big steal in a couple years.
NHL players that he compares to: Think along the lines of recently high-paid blueliners like Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty. Yes he could be that good in 2-4 years.