Leafs draft pick Rinat Valiev makes most of second chance

Maple Leafs draft pick Rinat Valiev (Getty/AFP)

Maple Leafs draft pick Rinat Valiev (Getty/AFP)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

A year ago, Rinat Valiev watched the NHL draft at home in Russia on a computer, painfully witnessing his NHL dream seemingly fade away.

The second time around turned out just fine for the big, puck-moving defenceman who, on Saturday, was selected by the Maple Leafs in the third round (68th overall) of this year’s entry draft.

So, how did a player who essentially fell off the radar of 30 NHL teams suddenly become a valued commodity?

“It took him some time getting comfortable in our league,” Valiev’s junior coach, Ryan McGill, of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, said.

“The confidence we showed in him helped him show confidence in himself and his game. In January, his game just took off. He skyrocketed to be our best defenceman in the playoffs.”


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