Morgan Rielly was not in the Maple Leafs lineup on Saturday night and we’re going to find out in the next week whether that becomes fact for the regular season.

But put it this way: If Rielly continues on the path he has been on since camp started last week he will make the Leafs at least for a nine-game look before team brass has to make a final decision on the defenceman’s immediate future.

“He is making it as hard as we thought he would make it” Leafs general manager David Nonis said before the Leafs’ 3-2 pre-season shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center.

“He is a quiet guy but he is confident. He worked very hard in the off-season. He came in here with pretty high expectations of himself. Whether he can do it it’s still too early to say. We are happy with what he has done he has shown flashes of definitely being ready.”

In three exhibition games Rielly has one assist and is plus-2. Coach Randy Carlyle and his staff will have four more games to evaluate Rielly if he plays in all of them starting on Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre against the Sabres.

It’s the Leafs or the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League this season for Rielly as he can’t be sent to the Toronto Marlies.

“If he does go back he has a good coach (Mike Stothers) there” Nonis said. “That is one area you look at is he being coached by a quality staff and the answer is yes. Would he have a major impact on (Canada’s) world junior team? I think the answer there is yes. There are some things that could happen that would be good for him. That doesn’t mean that he should go back. If he really is ready to play here and can play a significant role there is nothing wrong with keeping a 19-year-old.”

And whether the Leafs can re-sign Cody Franson who is starting to make noise about exploring his options in Europe likely would help determine Rielly’s future.