Rinat Valiev
Image: WHL

Rinat Valiev


Nizhnekamsk Russia

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3rd round (68th overall), 2014


190 lbs.

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2009-10: Rinat Valiev played in the Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk youth program in Russia and represented Povolshie in the 2009 U15 tournament. He skated for Ak Bars Kazan in the 2010 Russian U15 championship. In five games for Povolshie he scored 2 goals with 2 assists and was -1 with 8 penalty minutes. Valiev was +2 and had 2 assists with 2 penalty minutes in six games at the Russian Championships as Ak Bars finished second in its pool and defeated Traktor Chelyabinsk, 6-2, in the bronze medal game.

2010-11: Valiev skated for the Ak Bars Kazan 1995 team that reached the Povolzhie Region finals, played for the club’s U17 team at the 2011 Russian Championship, and played for Russia’s U16 team in the 2011 U17 Four Nations Tournament in Podolsk. He scored 1 goal and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes for the Ak Bars U17 team as the club finished second in its pool and lost to Avangard Omsk, 6-0, in the bronze medal game. Valiev had no points nor penalty minutes in his only game for Russia in the Four Nations Tournament.

2011-12: Valiev played junior hockey in Russia as a 16-year-old — splitting the season between Kazan’s first and second teams in the MHL and MHL B leagues — and played for Russia’s U17 team in the 2012 Four Nations Tournament in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. He scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +9 with 10 penalty minutes in 15 regular season games for Bars Kazan and had 1 goal and an even plus/minus in one MHL playoff game. Valiev scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was +22 with 38 penalty minutes in 26 MHL B games in league play for Irbis and was +4 with 2 assists and 6 penalty minutes in the playoffs. In three games for Russia at the Four Nations Tournament he scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +2 with 29 penalty minutes. Valiev was selected by Ak Bars in the first round (3rd overall) in the 2012 KHL Draft.

2012-13: Valiev skated for Russia’s U18 team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in August and skated in six MHL games with Bars Kazan before heading to North America to play for the USHL’s Indiana Ice. He skated in 36 games for Indiana and played in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game before suffering a season-ending injury. He scored 6 goals with 7 assists and was -6 with 43 penalty minutes in 36 USHL games. Valiev scored 2 goals with 1 assists and was an even plus/minus in four games at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also skated for Russia in the Sergei Zholtok Memorial and Five Nations Tournaments. He was not selected in the NHL Draft in his first year of eligibility but was taken by Kootenay in the first round (25th overall) of the 2013 CHL Import Draft.

2013-14: Valiev played in the WHL with Kootenay and skated for Russia’s junior team in the 2013 Subway Super Series in Canada. He played 55 regular season games for the Ice — missing time at the beginning of the year due to the strike of Canadian visa workers and then missing three weeks in December due to a lower body injury. Valiev was the second-leading scorer amongst Kootenay defenseman behind 20-year-old Jagger Dirk, finishing with 5 goals and 23 assists, and was +27 with 68 penalty minutes. Kootenay finished fourth in the Central Division and defeated Calgary in the first round before falling to Medicine Hdaat in a seven game, second round series. Valiev scored 1 goal with 8 assists and was -5 with 16 penalty minutes in 13 playoff games. He was -1 with no points and 2 penalty minutes in two games during the Subway Series. Valiev was ranked 83rd amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Toronto in the third round (68th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. Valiev signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs in July 2014.

2014-15: Valiev made his pro hockey debut with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies following his second WHL season with Kootenay and played for the silver medal Russia U20 team at the 2015 World Junior Championship. He was +3 with no points nor penalties in two regular season games with the Marlies but did not play in the playoff series against Grand Rapids. Valiev scored 9 goals with 37 assists and was +22 with 53 penalty minutes in 52 regular season games for Kootenay. The Ice finished fourth in the Central Division, falling to Calgary in a seven-game playoff series. Valiev scored 3 goals with 2 assists and had an even plus/minus in the series. He had 3 assists and was -2 with 6 penalty minutes in seven games for Russia at the WJC. Russia lost to Canada, 5-4, in the gold medal game.   

2015-16: Valiev made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs in a March 12th game against Ottawa after being recalled from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. He had an even plus/minus with no points nor penalties in 10 NHL games, averaging 12:15 minutes of ice time. Valiev scored 4 goals with 19 assists and was +32 with 30 penalty minutes in 60 regular season games with the Marlies. Toronto finished first in the North Division, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals against Hershey. Valiev was +1 with no points and 4 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games. 

Talent Analysis

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 made his NHL debut as a 20-year-old in 2015-16, skating in 10 games with Toronto after being recalled in March. He was one of the top two-way defensemen for the AHL's Toronto Marlies in his first pro season and should show more of an offensive side to his game at the NHL level as he gains experience. A third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Valiev appears slightly ahead of some of the young defensemen in the Leafs' system. He could stick with the parent club as soon as next season but barring any surprises or injuries will start the 2016-17 season with the Marlies. His combination of technical skill and positional awareness suggest he can one day be a first or second pairing defenseman.

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