He’s not looking so bad right now.
Rielly went fifth overall to the Leafs that night in Pittsburgh, with three of the four players taken ahead of him having already switched teams at least once (Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, and Griffin Reinhart).
Burke was on Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup Wednesday, to discuss making that pick, and his bold claim at the time that Rielly was atop Toronto’s list of prospects.
“I told Morgan that cause it’s true. Morgan was injured his draft year, he only played a handful of games at the end of the year,” said Burke. “I did not go in and watch him play, (but) we scouted the hell out of him though. We had like eight people at some of those games. And then I had our video guy break down every shift he played, I watched every shift he played that year and then I watched him again and I watched him again.
“To me, his skating was so advanced – and you could see it was going to get better with some power – that he could skate the puck out of trouble at all times, his decision-making was good. His maturity as a kid was good; this is a guy who when he was hurt he’d go meet the team when they’d come back after a road trip at 3 or 4 in the morning, he’d go and meet the bus on crutches.”
(You can hear Burke tell commissioner Gary Bettman that he had Rielly No. 1 at 7:22 of the video below.)
The 24-year-old is off to a stellar start to the 2018-19 season, having picked up two goals and 10 points in just four games so far. He had a career-high 52 points last season.
Burke also weighed in on the William Nylander contract standoff and what the Leafs should do with their vacant captaincy, drawing on the time Dion Phaneuf wore the C in Toronto.
You can listen to the full interview below: