As a rookie right wing, Stan Galiev gets it. He sees T.J. Oshie, Andre Burakovsky, Justin Williams and Tom Wilson occupying the top four right wing spots on the Caps’ roster and knows it may take an injury for him to get into the lineup.
“I’m ready to play, and I want to have my chance, and if I have my chance I’m going to use it,” said Galiev, who on Tuesday participated in his first practice with the Capitals after returning from a 10-day conditioning assignment with the AHL Hershey Bears.
“We have a great team here and we want to stay healthy and everybody is excited we’re winning games. So I need to stay positive.”
Despite recording three goals in five games with Hershey, where he averaged over 20 minutes of ice time, Galiev, 23, seems resigned to the fact that he is 13th on the Caps’ forward depth chart and that it may take an injury or poor play for him to get into the lineup.
“I have to prepare myself mentally,” said Galiev, who has one assist in two games for the Caps, averaging 9:39 in ice time. “I’ve got to play smart like NHL players. That’s how Trotzy wants me to play – a simple game, get the pucks deep, play hard in the D zone, hard on the walls.”
Those are probably not the qualities that attracted the Capitals to Galiev, whose slick offensive skills led to him being taken by the Caps in the third round of the 2010 draft and led to him leading the Bears with 25 goals last season.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that developing young and inexperienced players like Galiev while continuing to win hockey games is a balancing act.
“I think we’ve got to come up with a little bit of a plan,” Trotz said. “I talked to him about some areas where I know he can improve, so let’s start working on that through practice and through individual skill work.
“We’ll get him in fairly shortly. We have to. We have to balance not only trying to win hockey games but also developing people in our organization. If you’re not winning it’s harder to have as much flexibility because there’s not a lot of trust because there isn’t a big body of (NHL) work. That’s the biggest thing. We need to win.”
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