Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly will not play in World Junior Championship

Rory Boylen

Elias Lindholm, Matt Dumba, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov have all played in the NHL this season – and all of them will be in Sweden over the Christmas holidays playing in the World Junior Championship.

But Toronto’s Morgan Rielly? Don’t look for him at the event.

The Maple Leafs announced Wednesday the fleet puck-moving defenseman would not be loaned to the Canadian World Junior team.

If he did go, Rielly was expected to be one of the likely candidates to captain the team. Instead, he’ll stay with the struggling NHL squad, where he’s averaging 17:58 of ice time per night as one of the few promising roster elements. In 27 games, Rielly has one goal and 10 points.

Loaning a young NHL player to his country for a WJC event is a two-sided sword. On one hand, that player would be exposed as a centerpiece player on a big stage, where he would gain experience in the spotlight and should gain (or renew) confidence. On the other, the competition is a major step down from NHL duty – if you’ve already left the junior ranks, what do you have to gain by going back?

What do you think: should Rielly have been loaned to Team Canada?