When Stanislav Galiev was drafted by the Capitals in the third-round (86th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, they envisioned him someday being an offensive mainstay with the Capitals in just a few short years. However, in 2013-14, that vision started to fall apart. Galiev was shuffled back and forth between the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears and the East Coast Hockey League’s Reading Royals (then the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate). In addition he was struggling to stay healthy. It looked as though the once-promising prospect was falling short of what the Capitals had envisioned.
Fast-forward to the 2014-15 season. After scoring just three goals in his first two professional seasons, Galiev was made a healthy scratch by Hershey head coach
Troy Mann more often than not.
But once given an opportunity to play, the 23-year old Russian began to show promise. At the conclusion of the season, Galiev finished 18th overall on the AHL goal-scoring leaderboard and led the Bears with 25 goals in 67 games. He also led the Bears with 15 power play goals. And in his two games with the Capitals, he scored his first career goal. With the final roster cuts being announced Tuesday, Galiev earned himself another opportunity to prove himself to the Capitals coaching staff. But although he will be playing Opening Night, Galiev could be sent back down to Hershey once Nicklas Backstrom returns from injury. The Capitals would rather have him playing meaningful, top-line minutes in Hershey, rather than see him play fourth-line minutes in DC.
After his career season, the Capitals rewarded Galiev with a two-year, two-way contract. But at one point, Galiev’s chances of making the Opening Night roster seemed slim.
Head coach Barry Trotz said shortly before the Capitals’ preseason game versus the Carolina Hurricanes: “There’s no question, he hasn’t stood out right now at all to me,” Trotz said. “He’s got to play better. We’re pretty well out of time. We’ll make a decision on him very shortly.” And Trotz’ message seemed to sink in: that night, Galiev scored a goal. And less than three weeks later, Galiev will be playing in his first Capitals’ Opening Night game.
On a sidenote, Galiev’s offseason was probably more noteworthy than his preseason: this summer, Galiev and his wife traveled to Vietnam and while there, did something few people get to experience: He swallowed and ate a still-beating cobra heart and then washed it down with the snake’s own blood. As one can imagine, it generated a lot of buzz and Galiev’s Instagram account provided some close-up views of the snake’s organs shortly before being devoured. As Galiev told CSN Washington’s Jill Sorenson: “You might never have a chance to do something like that again….it was a great experience”.
Galiev is still just 23-years old and has seemingly resurrected his career after what some would consider a poor start. If he can continue to develop into a goal-scorer and improve his defensive game, the Caps could have a key piece of their future waiting for his chance to shine.
By Michael Fleetwood