Vancouver-native Morgan Rielly was chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. At the end of the 2012-13 season, he made his professional debut with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Toronto Marlies. He didn’t stay there long.
Rielly made the Maple Leafs roster out of the team’s 2013-14 training camp and played his first game against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 5, 2013. This season is currently his 10th suiting up in the blue and white.
What a career Rielly has had. He’s on his way to becoming one of the best defensemen in Maple Leafs’ history. But, he’s also part of a team that is extremely talented and has players who are rising on the all-time franchise list.
Current Players Among the All-Time Maple Leafs’ Leaders
If one wants to see just how talented the present roster of Maple Leafs’ players is, all one needs to do is check out quanthockey.com’s list of all-time scoring leaders.
For example, in 436 NHL games played, or the equivalent of just over five full seasons, Auston Matthews is already eighth in all-time goals with 274, and 12th in all-time points with 491. His 17 playoff goals place him 16th all-time, while his 33 points put him in 23rd place. Matthews’ 60 goals last season was the most by any Maple Leafs’ player in the history of the team, and his 106 points rank fourth all-time.
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Mitch Marner’s 490 points are one less than Matthews and place him 13th for all-time points. His 340 assists are the eighth-most of any Maple Leafs’ player. He is tied with Matthews for 23rd place in playoff points with 33. He sits in 15th place for playoff assists with 26.
Marner holds down the fourth and sixth spots for most assists in a season. His 68 assists in 2018-19 are the fourth most of any Maple Leafs’ player, while his 62 assists last season are the sixth most.
William Nylander’s 376 points in 468 games rank 25th all-time for the Maple Leafs. He is also 29th in goals with 154. His 30 playoff points are the 28th most ever by a Maple Leafs player, and his 13 goals put him in 29th all-time.
John Tavares was 27 years of age when he signed with the Maple Leafs and didn’t play his first game until he was 28. He has only played 309 games since becoming a Maple Leaf, but he’s still 40th all-time in points with 302, and 34th in goals with 132.
Rielly’s Long Tenure & Ranking with the Maple Leafs
One player has been on the team the longest of any present Maple Leaf. That’s Rielly. He also ranks right up there in many scoring categories.
Rielly presently ranks 11th in assists with 320 and 24th in all-time points with 389. He is also 26th in playoff points with 18 (from “With eight-year contract kicking in, Morgan Rielly feels like he’s ‘just getting started’ with Maple Leafs,” Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun, 01/10/2022).
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That ranking includes all skaters for the Maple Leafs, both forwards and defensemen. If we look specifically at defensemen, Rielly’s 389 points put him in the top five. His 320 assists are also the fourth-best of any Maple Leafs’ defenseman. While not known for his goal-scoring ability, Rielly’s 69 goals still place him in eighth place all-time.
Only Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull have scored more points in a single season than the 72 Rielly scored in the 2018-19 season. Salming is the only Maple Leafs’ defenseman who has recorded more assists in a single season than Rielly’s 58 in that same 2018-19 season.
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As for the playoffs, Rielly’s seven goals tie him for sixth all-time with the Maple Leafs, his 18 assists rank eighth, and his 25 points rank ninth.
Rielly Is Moving up in the Games-Played Category
Rielly’s 674 regular-season games played in his career are the sixth-most by a Maple Leafs’ defenseman and his 39 playoff games rank 23rd. Despite playing almost 700 games in his career, he is still only 28 years old and is signed for seven more years with the Maple Leafs.
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Right now, Rielly is only 131 points behind second-place Tomas Kaberle. Odds are pretty good that, if he stays healthy and remains a Maple Leaf, by the time his career is over he will be in the top two for scoring all-time for a Maple Leafs’ defenseman.
Thinking further ahead, can Rielly ever catch Salming as the team’s all-time leading scorer as a defenseman? He’s currently 379 points behind. Given that he has seven seasons remaining on his contract, he’d have to average 54 points a season in those seven seasons to catch Salming. That pace might be a stretch. However, he’ll only be 35 years old when his current contract expires. To pass Salming, he’d likely have to sign past his current contract.
If Rielly drinks from the fountain of youth that current Maple Leafs’ defenseman Mark Giordano has obviously found and plays until he’s 39 years of age, he’d only have to average about 35 points a season. That seems quite possible actually.
There’s a chance Rielly might one day become the Maple Leafs’ all-time leading scorer for defensemen.
[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]