If Rinat Valiev makes it into the Leafs' lineup for tomorrow's game against the Ottawa Senators, he could be making his NHL debut.
Scott Wheeler @scottcwheeler 19s20 seconds ago
Rinat Valiev recalled by Leafs. He has 21 points in 54 games as a rookie with the Marlies.
Last week, news broke that Matt Hunwick would have season-ending sports hernia surgery. Victor Loov was immediately called up to replace him, but was also immediately injured during practice, and yet another Marlies defenseman was brought in.
TJ Brennan played exactly one game for the Maple Leafs against the New York Islanders before he was sent back to the Marlies. He is one of the top-scoring AHL players, defenseman or forward, but has so far been unable to stick in the NHL. Once again, due to a performance that some called "solid" and others "boring" or "impactless," he was sent back down to his comfort zone, overachieving in the AHL.
03/10/2016 T.J. Brennan (D) Toronto ADD Returned on loan from Toronto (NHL)
03/10/2016 Taylor Doherty (D) Toronto ADD Signed to PTO [AHL Transactions]
In his place, Rinat Valiev has been brought up to the Maple Leafs. How does this impact the "only four players can be called up until playoffs" rule? Presumably the Leafs can use an emergency call up as long as it's to replace an injured player, and not have it count against the four-player regular callups rule. In this case, it's a revolving door -- Loov, then Brennan, and now Valiev, in place of Hunwick. Will the NHLPA complain? Maybe not, because it has no impact on the Leafs' playoff chances?
The Toronto Marlies are impacted in another way. They've lost a defenseman (pick one of the above).
In order to recoup the loss, the Marlies and Orlando Solar Bears have been involved in a back-and-forth of players since Wednesday. On Wednesday, the Marlies got Rapid City Rush player Taylor Doherty on loan (a common practice with players who are not on two-way contracts). On Thursday, the Marlies recalled Solar Bear defenseman Max Nicastro, and then reassigned him to Rapid City. Basically, the Solar Bears traded Nicastro's ECHL rights for Doherty's ECHL rights, since he signed a PTO with the Marlies.
If you're keeping track, that leaves the Solar Bears out a defenseman. No plans yet to replace this solid part of the Solar Bears' blue line. (Kyle Dubas, I'm looking at you.)
PPP's information is scarce so far about Valiev. We ranked him 22nd in the mid-season prospect ranking, and he's been an up-and-coming rookie addition to the Marlies' blue line. You can also get a good feel for his personality here for an episode of the Marlies' 20 questions.