With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.
No. 49 Stanislav Galiev
Age: 24 (turns 25 on Jan. 17, 2017)
Penalty minutes: 4
Time on ice: 9:07
Playoff stats: Did not play.
Contract status: One year remaining on 2-year, $1.15 million one-way contract ($575,000 cap hit and salary).
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Stanislav Galiev spent his first full season in the NHL caught in hockey purgatory -- too good to be sent through waivers, where he’d likely be claimed by another NHL team, yet not good enough to be an everyday player with the Capitals.
As a result, Galiev played in just 24 games this season and never stayed in the lineup for more than five consecutive games. Like Michael Latta, he was a healthy scratch for all 12 playoff games as well.
“It's been tough, but I tried to stay positive,” Galiev said following the Caps’ second-round playoff exit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I understand the reason. (The Caps) don't have much injuries and the team was playing great so I just had to keep my head up and be positive again and just learn.”
Galiev made the Capitals out of training camp, mostly because he needed to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL. But when he didn’t play for the first four weeks of the season, he was sent to Hershey on a five-game conditioning assignment, where he scored three goals.
Back then, Capitals coach Barry Trotz acknowledged he was more interested in winning games than the development of Galiev, who was taken in the third round (86th overall) of the 2010 draft but had spent most of his pro career in the AHL.
“There’s not a lot of trust (in Galiev) because there isn’t a big body of work,” Trotz said in November. “That’s probably the biggest thing, so we need to win.”
So for the rest of the season, Galiev did what healthy scratches do. He practiced hard every day, without complaint, staying on the ice long after practices ended. When he got an opportunity to be in the lineup, Galiev was relegated to fourth-line duty, where his offensive instincts often failed to flourish. His only top-line opportunity came when Alex Ovechkin was suspended for missing the NHL All-Star Game, but Trotz quickly yanked him off the top line and dropped him back to the fourth unit.
“I understand,” he said. “The team is first for me. We didn't get much injuries, we were winning lots of games and I just tried to learn some things during practice with some big boys. Even watching the games from up top (in the press box) can help you to improve your game.”
Galiev could have demanded a trade but instead thanked the Capitals for not putting him on waivers, even though it could have jumpstarted his NHL career if he was claimed.
“I want to say thank you to the coach and staff,” Galiev said. “They gave me a chance and I didn't expect to be here, maybe because of my contract, because I (was) on a two-way, and it's a positive thing.”
As the Capitals approach the June 24-25 NHL draft and discuss their roster options for 2016-17, Galiev’s role seems a bit ambiguous. Could he provide the third-line speed Caps general manager Brian MacLellan is seeking? Or could he be traded to a team that believes he can make a difference as a second- or third-line right wing?
Galiev’s contract becomes a one-way deal next season.
“I don't know yet,” Galiev said of his role. “But I feel like I can bring some speed to the game and backcheck, forecheck. I can be a first guy on the forecheck on pressure.
“Hopefully, I will step up my game and get more ice and that will improve my confidence, too. I feel I improved a lot of things this year -- defense, offense -- that hopefully will help me. I have to work to earn a spot.”
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