Toronto Maple Leafs Top 20 Young Leafs: No.17-20

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Mar 26, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rinat Valiev (29) warms up before playing against the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

RINAT VALIEV

BY LAUREN KELLY

The 19th ranked Young Leafs player in the system, voted by the EditorInLeaf.com writers, is Rinat Valiev.

Valiev was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, 68th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He wasn’t selected in his original NHL draft year (2013) but was selected in the CHL Import Draft by the Kootenay Ice. He spent the next year playing in Kootenay, racking up 28 points in 55 games.

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He then threw down another 9 points in only 13 playoff games before the Leafs drafted him in the third round a year later.  He spent most of last season playing with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, and was called up by the Leafs on March 12th.

He played 10 games in the NHL and averaged 12:15 minutes a night. He didn’t have any points, but was even at +/-. Valiev scored 4 goals and 19 assists in 60 regular season games with the Marlies last season.

In terms of where our writers had Valiev ranked in their Top 20 lists, it did vary a little. None of Tim, Lauren, or John had him on their lists. Torrin and Sandy had him ranked 15th, and Nick and Conor had Valiev at 17.

HockeysFuture Describes him:

"Valiev is a dynamic skating defenseman. He has offensive ability and is a strong stickhandler. He also displays an edge to his game and is willing to drop the gloves to protect teammates."

Valiev is regarded as a dynamic skating defenseman, with an offensive nature and controls the puck well. He also plays with an edge, and isn’t afraid to get rough when he needs to (at 6’2, 214lbs, Valiev has an NHL-ready frame).

His technical skill and positional awareness make him a very promising Leafs prospect. He still needs more development in the AHL to make the jump and stay on the Leafs roster. His brief stint up in the NHL last season was overall a positive one.

He made solid plays and didn’t look out-of-place, but he looked tentative at times and was the victim of some rookie mistakes, that at times resulted in costly turn overs.

In terms of where he projects on the Leafs long-term, he’ll likely slot in no higher than the 2nd defense pair once he makes the jump to the NHL.

As one of the Leafs better defensive prospects, Valiev adds to the team’s depth on the blueline and could become a dependable presence on the back-end a couple of seasons down the road. He has a large enough upside that makes him worth being included in our Top 20.