The Toronto Maple Leafs could have another rookie in the lineup this weekend. This morning, they announced the recall of defenseman Rinat Valiev from the AHL.
Valiev has scored three goals with 18 assists in 54 games for the Marlies this season. The 20-year-old was drafted 68th overall by the Leafs in 2014. He represented Russia at the 2015 World Juniors.
According to CP’s Jonas Siegel, if Valiev plays Saturday against the Senators, he’ll become the ninth Leaf to make his NHL debut in 2015-16.
The other eight are William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman, Viktor Loov, Brendan Leipsic, Byron Froese, and Garret Sparks.
The Leafs, in case you hadn’t heard, are going through a bit of a rebuild.
Stephen Johns will make his NHL debut tonight for the Dallas Stars. And in an interesting twist of fate, he’ll do it against the team that drafted him, the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I’ve waited a long time for this day and I’m overly excited,” the 23-year-old defenseman told reporters this morning at American Airlines Center. “I just can’t wait.”
Johns was a second-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2010. He remained in Chicago’s organization until this past summer when he was dealt to the Stars as part of the Patrick Sharp trade.
“He plays the game hard,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said after acquiring Johns. “We’ve got a lot of skill in our lineup and we don’t have a lot of that presence. You need to have some of that size and different dimension in the back end and I think he brings that.”
After failing to make the Stars out of camp in September, Johns was assigned to the AHL’s Texas Stars, for whom he has four goals and 20 assists in 55 games this season.
Injuries to John Klingberg, Jason Demers, and Jordie Benn prompted the Stars to recall Johns on Wednesday.
Related: Johns believes he’s ready for the NHL
“If certain guys don’t want to get it deep, then they’ll sit and then we’ll go from there.”
That was probably the key line of John Torchetti’s post-game press conference following last night’s 2-1 home loss to the Oilers.
The Wild’s interim coach was especially frustrated at his players’ lack of commitment to the game plan. What he wanted was to put pressure on the Oilers’ defense by getting the puck deep.
Instead, Torchetti said, “We didn’t want to to commit to that and we were trying to make passes through two, three guys, and then when we get over the blue line, it’s three-on-three and we’re still trying to make a pass through guys instead of getting it to the net and trying to get some rebounds and some offensive-zone cycle time.”
The Wild — who started so promisingly under Torchetti, winning their first four in a row — have now dropped two straight and five of their last nine.
In the process, they’ve fallen two points behind Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the West.
“We can’t be learning lessons like that now,” Torchetti said. “We have to be committed as a team all the way through. We should be playing playoff hockey now. That’s what it’s all about.”
Minnesota kicks off a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal.
DETROIT (AP) Bill Gadsby, a Hall of Fame defenseman who played 20 seasons in the NHL for Chicago, Detroit and the New York Rangers, has died. He was 88.
Lynn Anderson, director of communications for Beaumont Hospital of Farmington Hills, confirmed that Gadsby died Thursday.
Gadsby played 1,248 games from 1946-66 for the Blackhawks, Rangers and Red Wings, reaching the Stanley Cup finals with Detroit in 1963, 1964 and 1966. He later coached the Red Wings for just over a season, going 35-31-12.
Gadsby had 130 goals, 438 assists and 1,539 penalty minutes. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1970.
In 1958-59 with the Rangers, Gadsby set what was then a record for assists by a defenseman with 46.
Auston Matthews’ Swiss hockey season is over. His ZSC Lions, the top seed in the playoffs, have been swept in four games by SC Bern in the first round.
Matthews finished with three assists in the postseason. He had 24 goals and 22 assists in 36 regular-season games for the Zurich club. The 18-year-old from Scottsdale is expected to be the first overall pick in this summer’s NHL draft.
Matthews’ head coach this season, Marc Crawford, won’t be back with the club either. He spent four seasons in charge of ZSC, winning a championship in 2013-14 and losing in the finals last year.
Crawford, who coached the 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup, wants to return to the NHL — preferably as a head coach, though he hasn’t ruled out accepting an assistant position, or even a job in “one of the other leagues.”
Related: Guy Boucher fired by SC Bern