Leafs prospect Rielly fully committed to Team Canada juniors

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If the NHL lockout ends before the World Junior Hockey Championships wraps up on Jan. 5, Leafs prospect Morgan Rielly won’t be returning to North America from Russia.

Toronto GM Brian Burke made that clear to Hockey Canada, according to TSN.

Not that Rielly, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, was a shoe-in to make the NHL club.

More interesting would be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers’ third leading scorer in 2011-12. If the NHL does indeed have a shortened season, it’s going to be a mad dash to the playoffs, and failing to qualify isn’t acceptable anymore in Edmonton.

And yes, we’re painting a rather optimistic picture of the NHL’s labor situation. The league has canceled games through Dec. 30.