Despite the lock out, Brian Burke is still keeping an eye on his 2012 first round draft pick.
The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager was in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on Friday to watch defenceman Morgan Rielly step on the ice for the Warriors home opener.
And Rielly didn’t fail to impress his big boss, picking up an assist as the Warriors defeated the Swift Current Broncos 4-3 in overtime.
A day later, the Vancouver native had a goal as the back-to-back series wrapped up.
Burke told the Warriors website that Rielly “is the whole package” with intelligent hockey sense and that he is good both defensively and offensively.
People from the Leafs player development department plan to watch Rielly as much as possible this season, even when he’s on the road.
Burke will also try to make as many games as possible, as long as the Leafs are not playing during this lockout.
Rielly was chosen fifth overall by the Leafs in the June 22 NHL draft.
The 6-foot-1 defenceman was the Leafs highest choice and has played two seasons in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) with the Notre Dame Hounds before joining the Warriors in the WHL.
He earned 28 points in 65 games with Moose Jaw in his first year but only played 18 during 2011-2012 because of a knee injury.
Burke said the 18-year-old will definitely have a chance to play in the NHL as early as this year if it weren’t for the lock out as Rielly impressed many coaches during the Leafs prospect camp.
However, the Leafs GM is happy that Rielly will have more time to develop in the minor leagues.
He puts a lot of faith in Moose Jaw’s development program for young and upcoming players as well as their coach, Mike Stothers.
Burke trusts Stothers because he has developed players in the past such as Bobby Ryan when he was in Owen Sound.