Leafs first-round draft pick Morgan Rielly joined several NHL prospects as part of the NHLPA Rookie Showcase on Tuesday. The annual event allowed trading card partners Panini America and Upper Deck to be photograph 30 young players for the first time in their NHL uniforms.

Q: Is it strange to attend an event like this, not knowing if there is going to be an NHL season?
A: Absolutely. We’re not too sure what to expect here. But, as players we hope the league plays this year. We’re just trying to enjoy it, and we’re going to let all the players handle it and just try to have fun with (the event).

Q: Do you prepare for the season the exact same way?
A: Yes. You just keep trying to train, and keep skating. Who knows, there might be a camp or a league, but you’ve just got to always be prepared.

Q: Have you thought of a contingency plan in case of a lockout?
A: I’ve been at camp with my junior team (Moose Jaw), and I’m heading back there tomorrow morning. Either way, I’ll have a strong year and I’ll just try to keep getting better.

Q: What did the Canada-Russia Challenge series do for your confidence level?
A: It was big. I went into the camp trying to prove myself, and wanted to have a good couple of games there, and I did. I was pretty happy with it.

Q: Brian Burke said he would have drafted you over everybody else. Does that kind of statement put extra pressure on you?
A: I don’t know if it’s extra pressure. There were some pretty good players in that draft, and I’m just happy to be in that mix. I couldn’t be any happier than being drafted to Toronto. It’s a dream come true, and I’m just happy that I have the opportunity that I do. If I went in the top 10 or top 20, it’s not a huge deal to me.

Q: How does it feel to be injury-free, are you 100%?
A: Absolutely. I had the opportunity to play in the (2012 WHL) playoffs, which was a pretty big step. And to have that extra opportunity to play for Team Canada was pretty special. I tried to take advantage of it, and it was a lot of fun.

Q: What do you think of George Laraque’s efforts to organize the CHLPA; does the league need a union?
A: I’m not too sure what it actually is yet. I haven’t had the chance to speak about it. But I’m interested to hear more about it, so I’ll have to wait and see.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca

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