When trades take place in the National Hockey League, it's easy for fans to forget about younger players, prospects and picks. It is also understandable. However, what isn't, is when one of the two teams that was involved in a said trade, forgets about one of these players.
After a brief stint with the Montreal Canadiens after the trade deadline, it seems that young defenseman Rinat Valiev will be going to play in the KHL after all. During this year's trade deadline, the 22-year-old blue liner was shipped from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Kerby Rychel and a since round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft to the Canadiens for Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun.
There is no doubt the young defender was hoping to get a fresh start in a new organization after falling into the depths of the prospect pool in Toronto and spending almost all of his time with the Marlies in the American Hockey League. At the time of the trade, the Canadiens were struggling with injuries on the back end and many believed there was a clear path for Valiev to make his NHL debut with the team soon after his acquisition.
Valiev played his first game with the Laval Rocket against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and recorded an assist on Kerby Rychel‘s power-play goal, and soon after, he was finally called up by the big club. The young defenseman did not manage to impress Habs management, he had underwhelming performances in the two games he played for the Habs. He finally ended up on the sideline with a lower-body injury and was forgotten in the AHL.
The Habs forgot about him and now, and Valiev has decided to bolt for the KHL. Valiev is a pending restricted free agent, and there hasn’t been any indication of the Montreal choosing to bring him back, and so, the unhappy 22-year-old has chosen to head back home to Russia. Daniel Milstein, Valiev's agent, has confirmed to La Presse on Tuesday that had no discussion with the Montreal management regarding his client.
All indications are that Valiev's association with the Canadiens was short-lived, and that the Leafs were clear winners in that trade after all. However, it was reported this morning that Plekanec is set to return to the team that traded him to Toronto in February. The 35-year-old veteran player made a major statement about his immediate future, saying his priority this summer was to sign a new contract with the Canadiens.