These days weíre more so looking for guys who specialize in a particular area. Let the coaches take care of the rest Ė match lines, give players the right opportunities, and plug the holes with cheap players who are good at shutting things down when needed.
The idea is that top draft picks should be used on top players. If Iím to believe everything Iíve read and the few minutes of play Iíve watched from Morgan Rielly, it seems the Leafs have done that. This isnít a Luke Schenn-type pick, itís the exact opposite. Some Leafsí fans were puzzled by the pick at first, but in a sense this is what weíve been requesting for a few years now: Draft a player with a ton of raw talent and a high ceiling Ė a guy who can drive play, take the puck to the net, create offense.
Riellyís scouting reports point out a lot of positives, the most prominent being his skating and ability to move the puck, as youíve likely already read. And perhaps one of the traits that stands out the most to me is that heís been touted as having ďelite vision.Ē
The ability to read the ice and maintain composure with the puck (poise, anyone?) is crucial in the NHL. If youíre under the impression that any player at the pro level is able to steadily control the puck, you havenít watched the Leafs over the past few seasons.
The Leafs want/need a player that can help them out-chance the other team regularly. Rielly seems like the type of player who can help in that regard. Whether the team can get him to a level where he can retrieve the puck often remains to be seen, but that will surely be their focus. You often hear that teaching the type of skill Rielly has (again, elite vision, puck movement) is nearly impossible. In my opinion, itís true. Itís part of the reason I want the Leafs to keep Cody Franson, since it shouldnít be out of the question for him to straighten out his defensive game a little under Carlyle.
There arenít a lot of Leafs players who I feel comfortable with when theyíre in possession of the puck. A lot of them are shaky as hell. It looks like Rielly wonít have a problem in this area. His purpose will be pretty clearly defined as an offensive guy who can control the game. Heíll likely play big minutes and take charge of situations in the offensive zone, should he develop properly. The Leafs can hopefully turn out Rielly and make up for how poorly they did with their last top five pick.
From Cam Charron at The Leafs Nation, prior to the Schenn trade:
Should Morgan Rielly eventually break on to the Leafsí roster in the next couple years, which we all believe he will, there will be little doubt as to what his role is. If the new game is built on speed and puck possession, by nabbing a player like Rielly and unloading the brick-footed Schenn, the Leafs have done quite well over the weekend.Schenn was drafted fifth, so there is some NHL talent in that body. It needs to be properly harnessed. The Leafs should only trade him if they donít think they can do that. Switching his role from game-to-game and season-to-season isnít helping a guy who has been developing as an 18-year old in the NHL since 2008.