Laich, Galiev, and Gilbert – the Strange Similarities of Three Guys on Different Paths

brooks-laich-toronto-marliesIt was the first time that Brooks Laich, Stan Galiev, and Tom Gilbert suited up for a game on the same ice. At the same time the three players more than likely skated onto the ice Saturday night at Giant Center for the last time. 

For Hershey’s Galiev, whispers of a potential trade have been running rampant the past week. In an article for The Washington Post, Isabelle Khurshudyan wrote that Galiev is on the trading block, citing multiple, unnamed sources. Toronto’s Laich, who recently cleared waivers, is unhappy playing in the AHL per ESPN and the Associated Press. Both players are not going in the direction they hope.


But for Gilbert, who recently landed in Hershey after being traded to the Capitals from the LA Kings, things are looking up a little bit. At 34, he’s the oldest of the three, but he probably has the best shot of remaining with the organization and perhaps rocking the red this season.

Gilbert, who had season-ending knee surgery just a year ago, is trying to get back to the NHL. He’s played for three teams in his limited time in the AHL, so he knows what it takes to be a defenseman in the NHL. He’s played for Edmonton, Minnesota, Florida, Montreal, and Los Angeles, a total of 655 games in the NHL. But after missing almost an entire year, Gilbert knows that stop one along the way is the AHL.


Perhaps the biggest irony of them all is that when Gilbert was trying to describe what it is like to lose an entire year, in the same locker room, Galiev sat, knowing full well just how hard it is to return to game form.

But Galiev is getting there and if there is an opportunity for him in the NHL, it seems that opportunity won’t be with the Capitals who traded Laich to Toronto just one year ago. Laich, who is 33, played in 21 games with the Maple Leafs last season, but has yet to play a game for them this season. Instead he has appeared in just 25 games for their AHL affiliate, the Marlies. Laich’s production is very low – one goal and eight assists, making it relatively easy to understand why the Leafs have him at the AHL level.


Galiev, on the other hand, has nearly tripled Laich’s numbers. In 36 games, he has 17 goals and 11 assists, closing in on his 2014-2015 numbers that led to the 25-year-old’s first recall to Washington. Immensely popular in Hershey, Galiev has also fallen victim to the same predicament Laich was in, a deep and talented forward corps in Washington, with one striking difference – their contracts.


Gilbert, a defenseman who came to the Capitals in a trade with the Kings for future considerations, may be heading to Washington to help out an injured defense. But with all Capitals skating this morning ahead of tomorrow’s contest in New York, perhaps he has the best chance of skating once again on Giant Center ice.

While the hours slowly tick by until Wednesday’s trade deadline, the paths of these three may never cross at the same arena again, but they are all tied to each other through the Capitals, through their shared experiences in hockey, and one game late in February 2017 in Hershey, PA.

By Julie Beidler

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