While there had been speculation that defenceman Rinat Valiev was going to the KHL next season, he has instead re-signed with the Habs on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will be worth the league minimum $650,000 at the NHL level with an AHL salary of $80,000 and a total guarantee of $105,000.
Valiev was acquired just before the trade deadline from Toronto as part of the Tomas Plekanec trade. He was recalled shortly after the deadline but wound up suffering a lower-body injury in just his second game with the Canadiens. When he got the green light to return, he was returned to Laval to play out the stretch run.
On the season, he played in 45 games between the Rocket and Toronto’s AHL affiliate, the Marlies, recording six goals and 12 assists along with a +12 rating and 28 penalty minutes. He has a total of 54 points in 134 games at the minor league level while being held off the scoresheet in a dozen NHL contests.
Valiev will have to pass through waivers to get back to Laval next season, assuming he fails to crack Montreal’s roster. Assuming he does so, he would provide the Rocket with another legitimate top-four option on the back end that could serve as a serviceable call-up when injuries arise.
With the signing, the Habs now have 38 committed contracts for 2018-19 with ten remaining restricted free agents. Considering that it’s likely that they will try to add a few players to help the big club this summer, there’s a good chance that many of the remaining RFAs will wind up being non-tendered in June.