Welcome to the Bench: Rinat Valiev
Born: 5/11/1995 (20 years old) Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Drafted: 3rd round (68th overall) in 2014 by Toronto Maple Leafs
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs (2016)
Weight: 208 lbs
March 12, 2016 the Toronto Maple Leafs called up Rinat Valiev on an emergency basis.
What he bring to the team
Of all of Toronto’s prospects that have been cracking the NHL roster, Valiev’s name is certainly the least sexy of the bunch. I’ve occasionally seen his name when the Marlies twitter account tweets their lines for that day’s game. He’s usually a bottom pairing guy skating alongside captain and AHL veteran Andrew Campbell, but that isn’t completely indicative of future NHL success. He projects as a good skating, physical defenseman with good offensive instincts. Former coach Ryan McGill of the Kootenay Ice had this to say about his game:
“The biggest thing about Rinat is he can play any type of game he wants to play. He’s going to be a physical defenceman, but at the same time, his skill level with the puck is tremendous. The one thing that is really going to set him apart from other guys is his ability to see the ice.”
Tonight he will be skating on a pairing with Frankie Corrado for his NHL debut vs. the Senators.
Here’s a video of Rinat fighting fighting top prospect Jake Virtanen in a WHL game from 2014:
Why he’s on the bench
Look I love that the Leafs are giving all of these young guys a chance this season, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to be successful. At this point they are just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Being a third round pick 2 years ago does carry some clout, but the general consensus is that Valiev just isn’t among the Leafs top tier of prospects. His offensive upside does give him a better shot at staying than a guy like Viktor Loov, but it is still far too early to tell just what he’s going to be.
It’s kind of crazy to think that, like me, Valiev was also born in 1995. From here on out I have to watch guys a lot younger than me accomplishing so much in professional sports. While ’95 born Roberto Osuna is closing games in the MLB playoffs, I’m at the grocery store wondering if the cheap Compliments brand macaroni and cheese is worth the $0.75 savings in lieu of Kraft Dinner… Just a bit of context for how much scrutiny these professional athletes are subject to.
If you want to hear two Russian AHL players conduct an interview, this video below has got you covered:
So many sound bites. “Work, work, work, work, work”, “Margot Robbie is so hot”, and “who doesn’t love Chipotle” are only funny if spoken in broken English with a Russian accent.