Morgan Rielly Edging Closer To Return

He's been on long-term injured reserve with a left knee injury for a month now, but there's some light at the end of the tunnel for Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly. He was actually spotted on skates this morning.

As Luke Fox of Sportsnet reports, the Leafs veteran D-man was doing some light work on his own, not close yet to contact drills, but it's a positive sign nonetheless.

At the time of the injury, the return timeline was posted as 4-to-6 weeks, so he appears to be trending somewhat on schedule. No surgery was needed. 

Rielly suffered a sprained MCL when he accidentally collided with the New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri on Nov. 21st.

The 10-year veteran's importance to Toronto's blueline can't be understated; when he went down, he was the team's leader in ice-time for defenseman with 23 minutes per game, is the point man on the No. 1 power play unit, and led all Leaf blueliners with 16 assists in 20 games. 

And while the sight of Rielly on skates is a good one for the Leafs, but it should be taken with caution.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe warned that he was still “a ways away” from getting back into game action.

The Leafs are also without another of their top-line defenseman, Jake Muzzin, on LTIR. 

:photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports