Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey
Since turning pro, the career of Capitals 2010 third-round draft pick Stan Galiev hasn’t gone as expected. The dynamic winger struggled with system play and never found a role with the AHL’s Hershey Bears under coaches Mark French and Mike Haviland. He spent the majority of the last two seasons with Reading in the ECHL. Last year, injuries and scratches limited him to just 30 games between the AHL and ECHL.
Despite this stunning goal in the beginning of the season, 2014-15 started as more of the same for Galiev, who has been playing in North America since 2008. Galiev was scratched in five of seven games in the opening months. But now, it seems like we may actually see a breakout year for the Russian winger.
After scoring four goals in his first 44 career AHL games, Galiev has scored three in his last three, including a game-winner against St. John’s on Sunday. Those were the only goals Hershey scored those games.
Galiev’s first goal of last week came on Wednesday against cross-state rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Russian forward launched a quick snap shot from the left face-off circle (The Ovi Spot), beating Jeff Zatkoff. The goal gave Hershey a 1-0 lead in the third period, but the Baby Pens managed to tie the game in the last minute of regulation. Hershey won in the shootout.
Galiev’s second goal was more Ovi-esque than the first. After a crisp pass from Connor Carrick, everyone in the arena knew Stan would shoot. He put all he had in a one-timer that beat arguably the NHL’s best goalie prospect and fellow Russian Andrei Vasilevsky, who plays for the Syracuse Crunch. Unfortunately, the rest of the game was dominated Syracuse, and the Crunch won 4-1.
On Sunday, Galiev extended his goal-scoring streak to three. Galiev scored the only goal of the game early in the third period against the St. John’s IceCaps. Philipp Grubauer recorded a shutout.
All this success might lead the Caps to call up Galiev at some point this season. Other prospects who might get the call should the opportunity at forward present itself are Nathan Walker, Chandler Stephenson, and Chris Brown. The Caps might also go with a veteran player (Casey Wellman, Kris Newbury, or Tim Kennedy). Galiev’s got plenty of competition, but looking at pure skill, he compares favorably to most, if not all, alternatives.
“Seriously, I’m not thinking about [the potential NHL call-up] right now,” Galiev told Tim Leone. “I’m trying to play my game as I’m playing right now. Play hard on every shift and, hopefully, I get rewarded with that. I just try to stick with the boys here and help them to win every game.”
Coach Troy Mann was more willing to talk about the potential recall: “I think it depends on what they’re looking for,” he told Leone. “Do I see Galiev going up and playing on the bottom six? Probably not. I guess it just depends on the type of injury [replacement] they’re looking for.”
“If he asked me who’s been our best player or best forward here maybe the last segment, so to speak, because we send player evaluations to the Capitals every six games, I would say Galiev is the best,” Mann added. “But that doesn’t mean that’s what they’re looking for. It’s all about pieces.”
Fun fact: Galiev and Ovechkin not only share the same hometown, but also the same hockey alma mater: both started their career in the system of the storied Dynamo Moscow franchise.
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