Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly had been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games last week, at which point it seemed that a trip to the World Juniors was all but certain. And then he was reinserted back into the lineup for four straight games, predictably quieting the assumption.
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle made clear, though, after Monday's game - in which Rielly scored his first career NHL goal - that a final decision had not yet been reached on whether to send Rielly to Sweden.
"We're going to have a tough decision here coming that's for sure," he said.
Be it Carlyle, Dave Nonis or any member of the management team, the Leafs have stressed that they'll do what's best for the long-term development of their prized rookie defender. But that assertion typically included the caveat that Rielly would remain in the NHL if he was playing regularly and contributing.
"We feel that he can play here and make a contribution," said Carlyle, questioned on the subject on Dec. 2.
The decision will come soon. Canada plays its first pre-tournament game on Friday.