Mark Fraser injury: Maple Leafs defenseman on LTIR; Could mean debut of Morgan Rielly

Claus Andersen

With Mark Fraser out for at least 10 games, it appears the time has come for Morgann Rielly to make his NHL debut.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed defenseman Mark Fraser on long term injured reserve, according to David Alter of Sportsnet 590.

Fraser sustained an undisclosed lower-body injury against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night. It's believed that he twisted his knee at some point during the third period and required the use of crutches to leave the arena.

By placing Fraser on long term injured reserve, he will be forced to miss a minimum of ten games or 24 days. It will also remove his cap hit from the team's books during the duration of his absence. Fraser carries a $1.275 million hit, according to CapGeek.com.

This means rookie Morgan Rielly could make his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. The 19-year-old defenseman was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and made the team out of training camp. Whether he will remain with the Maple Leafs for the entirety of the season remains to be seen because he still has junior eligibility and could be returned to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. Rielly can play in nine games before the first year of his entry-level contract begins.

Rielly was paired with Jake Gardiner during morning skate on Friday, according to Mark Masters of TSN.

While many are excited by his potential, there is concern about rushing Rielly's development -- similar to the situation from a few years ago with Luke Schenn. Schenn was also selected with No. 5 overall pick (in 2008) and made the team outright in his first training camp. He experienced a tumultuous time with the Maple Leafs, however, and was ultimately traded to Philadelphia two summers ago for James van Riemsdyk.

Regardless, it appears Fraser's injury will allow Rielly to face NHL competition in the short-term.

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