Photo credit: Sean Kilpatrick
Washington Capitals prospect Stan Galiev entered last season as a high-rated prospect, a talented Russian forward with lots of promise. After winning multiple championships with the St. John Sea Dogs and dominating the QMJHL, Galiev was rated #29 on Hockey Prospectus Top 100 Prospects list for the 2012-13 season.
Unfortunately, when Galiev first played for the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, he looked lost at times. He struggled on defense, not surprising considering how easy things came for him in juniors. The game was just a little bit too quick for him.
Galiev, however, finished on an upswing after a demotion to the ECHL’s Reading Royals, scoring 47 points in 46 games (including this sick goal). He also scored 11 points in 13 playoff games to help Reading win the 2012-13 championship. Over the summer, Galiev trained with renowned fitness guru Steve Saunders in Amish country along with Dmitry Orlov and Semyon Varlamov. Instead of sulking, a determined Galiev worked even harder.
Because of that hard work, Galiev was arguably the team’s best player in Washington’s first preseason game of the year Saturday. Less than one week into training camp, Galiev might have turned a corner in his development.
“I was excited to play this game,” Galiev said to Monumental Network. “I put 100% into [it]. We’ll see what’s going to happen [next].”
In the second period, Galiev scored a beautiful deflection goal off a Nate Schmidt shot from the point. The 21-year-old found a hole in Winnipeg’s defense, then showed off the finishing ability that made hockey analysts drool over him in the first place.
Galiev played on a line with minor league veterans Casey Wellman and Dane Byers, a trio that could stay together in Hershey after training camp ends. The group was at times the Capitals’ most effective line.
“We practice [together] for three, four days,” Galiev said. “We kinda have chemistry too and it’s fun to play with them.”
In overtime, Galiev drew a penalty after skating hard for a loose puck in the slot. The Capitals finished overtime with a 4-on-3 powerplay opportunity, which on a normal night should end the game.
When the Caps got to the shootout, Adam Oates rewarded the prospect by letting him go first in overtime. Galiev did not score, but he came close.
“It’s only one game, hopefully [younger players] get a chance to play three, four, five in the exhibition and you’ll get more of a read on a day-to-day basis,” Oates said to The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera. “Tonight, it’s their first game. Guys are in such different conditioning. Everybody’s just trying to get into it. A week from now it would be a different game.”
Oates is completely right: Galiev still has a lot to prove. But hopefully this is the breakout game that he needs to get himself back on track as the highly-rated prospect the Capitals need him to be.