Rinat Valiev the ninth Maple Leaf to make NHL debut this season?
Russia's Rinat Valiev, right, battles for the puck at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto on December 26, 2014. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, March 11, 2016 12:13PM EST
TORONTO -- Rinat Valiev could become the ninth different player to make his NHL debut for the Maple Leafs this season.
Valiev was recalled from the AHL's Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis Friday morning, replacing TJ Brennan, who played for the club in a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Wednesday. He is expected to play his first NHL game for the club Saturday night in Ottawa.
Just 20, Valiev is a third round pick of the Leafs (68th overall) from the 2014 NHL draft. He joins an already youthful defence which includes a trio of 22-year-olds in Morgan Rielly, Frankie Corrado and Connor Carrick.
Toronto recently shut down minute-eating defenceman Matt Hunwick with season-ending sports hernia surgery, trading veterans Dion Phaneuf and Roman Polak last month.
The Leafs' most experienced remaining defenceman is 25-year-old Jake Gardiner, who recently played his 300th NHL game.
Others to make their debuts this season are William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Viktor Loov, Garret Sparks, Zach Hyman, and Byron Froese.