Leafs won’t release Rielly for World Juniors

It appears Morgan Rielly won’t be headed to his second straight World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Maple Leafs aren’t going to release Rielly for the annual U-20 tournament, GM Dave Nonis announced on Wednesday. The decision comes after great speculation about the rookie defenseman’s availability — especially after the Leafs recalled veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles last week — but it’s possible Rielly’s recent string of solid play played a role in him sticking with Toronto.

The 19-year-old scored his first NHL goal on Monday in a 3-1 defeat in Pittsburgh, then played 19:38 in last night’s 3-1 loss to Florida. Rielly has become a lineup regular over the last two weeks, playing in each of Toronto’s last five games after being a healthy scratch on a few occasions in early December.

With this decision, it appears Team Canada will have just one NHLer on its roster for the Worlds — Minnesota defenseman Mathew Dumba.

(The team might still take another crack at Calgary rookie Sean Monahan, though.)

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