I want to start by saying I genuinely like Barry Trotz. I think he’s a good man and a good coach. He’s brought with him to Washington some of the brightest minds in hockey, he’s reversed a decline in the organization, and he’s helped Alex Ovechkin become a more complete player. I don’t think Trotz has gotten enough credit for that. He is exactly what fans wanted last summer: an experienced head coach.
But now that we’re more than halfway through the season, I see some worrying trends in this organization that reach all the way down to the AHL level.
Caps prospect Stan Galiev has put the work in this season and has become a great story. After initially struggling with system play as a teenager, the 23-year-old forward has carved himself out a roster spot in AHL Hershey. Galiev is fifth on the Bears in scoring. Earlier this season he authored a brilliant streak of 8 goals in 8 games, putting him on the Caps radar as a potential call-up.
“This year I played well in the pre-season, our head coach Troy Mann, trusted me and I began to score,” Galiev said. “I get power play time, get some points. I stay healthy too. You put all that together and you can say I’ve now got confidence.”
On Wednesday, the Hershey Bears opened their preseason by playing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the brand new PPL Center. The result of the actual game however is secondary to the sick goal Russian prospect Stan Galiev scored.
Galiev does a 360, passes the puck to himself, goes through two defenders, and then snipes the puck to the top right corner of the net.
Dmitry Orlovjust returned to DC today, after spending the last few weeks in New York (with Sasha Minor) rehabbing his injured wrist. Meanwhile Evgeny Kuznetsov and Stan Galiev have been in Arlington since late July.
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.
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.
Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey during Caps Development Camp in July. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
[Editor’s Note: Fedor has reported on Washington Capitals prospects for RMNB for the last three years. This year we’re proud to introduce his prospect rankings. The rankings will be updated three times during the season– with the goal of updating you on how prospects are or not progressing. The first edition of the rankings come on the second day of Rookie Camp, as Caps prospects jockey for position within the organization.]
The Washington Capitals have re-stocked their prospect pipeline over the past two NHL drafts, giving fans a wealth of new players to get excited about in addition to a few solid free-agent prospects signings.
The 2012 Draft is turning out be a sterling spot on George McPhee’s resume. After picking Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in the first round, GMGM made a few strong picks in the latter rounds with Thomas DiPauli, Connor Carrick, Riley Barber, and Christian Djoos– all of whom have been invited to their junior national team camps and left good impressions.
Depth on defense is an area of strength for this crop of talent, with more than a few prospects ready to compete for roster spots as soon as they open.
Below, check out inaugural edition of the RMNB prospect rankings.
Varly and trainer Steve Saunders. (Photo credit: Power Train Sports Institute’s Instagram page)
It seems like such a long time ago, but a few years back the Washington Capitals would almost always have a Russian on the ice. Not Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Viktor Kozlov, or Sergei Fedorov. It was Semyon Varlamov. At least, when he wasn’t struggling with groin injuries.
Varlamov, who at times looked more like an Olympic gymnast than a traditional NHL goaltender, had the talent to become the franchise’s long-term solution in net. After replacing Jose Theodore and dominating in the 2008-09 playoffs, Varlamov failed to lock down the starting position the next season. Because of injuries.
Varly’s injuries were made worse after rehab starts in Hershey. The next season, Varly battled with Michal Neuvirth for the number-one spot and again would was plagued by the same issues, again making another rehab trip to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate.
The Caps eventually dealt Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for draft picks during the summer of 2011, allowing the Avs to take all of the risk with Varly after his cheap entry-level contract expired. Since then, the Samara, Russia native has found his groove. After averaging 30.7 NHL-AHL appearances from 2008-11 with Washington and Hershey, Varlamov played in 53 games with Coloardo in 2011-12 and 51 in 2012-13 combined with Colorado and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. So what changed?