The decision to keep the 19-year-old defenseman beyond nine games means the first year of his entry-level contract will formally begin. Rielly still has junior eligibility and could have been returned to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, which would have resulted in his contract sliding. Once he appears in a 10th game, his contract will officially begin.
While Rielly will remain with the team, Carlyle stated it's still undecided how long his stay will be. The Maple Leafs still have the option to return him to junior and might have motivation to do so. While his contract formally begins after 10 games, there is still another deadline at the 40-game mark that can impact his status as an unrestricted free agent.
In the NHL, players earn the right to unrestricted free agency at 27 years old or by playing seven seasons, whichever comes first. If Rielly appears on the roster for 40 games this season, then he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at age 26.