From a broad perspective, the Capitals’ scouting and coaching staffs came away from last week’s development camp pleased with the progress of forward prospects Jakub Vrana, Zach Sanford, Chandler Stephenson and Riley Barber and defensive prospects Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos.
They also liked the potential they saw in 2015 draft picks Jonas Siegenthaler, Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams.
But there was another player– a proverbial blast from the past – whose name kept coming up, even though he was not in attendance.
Stanislav Galiev, once considered one of the top prospects in the organization, has crept back into the conversation as a solid contender for the Capitals’ 2015-16 roster. Considering where he was a year ago, that is no small feat.
“I think we’re going to give him a good shot,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We want to see the skill, we want to see the work ethic, the speed. We had him up for a short stint last year (two games, one goal) and I thought he played really well. He scored a goal, he’s got good hands, he shoots the puck well.
“We’ll give him a number of exhibition games to show what he can do and hopefully he sticks up (on the Caps’ roster).”
Taken by the Caps in the third round (86th overall) of the 2010 NHL draft, Galiev, 23, was an absolute force in back-to-back playoff years for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec League. In 2011 and 2012 QMJHL playoffs, Galiev recorded 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 36 playoff games. Back then, Galiev was projected as a top-six forward in the NHL.
But an injury plagued 2013-14 season had Galiev splitting time between the ECHL Reading Royals and AHL Hershey Bears and the following season proved much of the same, with Galiev producing at the ECHL level (47 points in 46 games) but coming up short in the AHL (one assist in 17 games).
Considering his failed expectations over two years it was reasonable to assume that Galiev would play out the final year of his contract and break away from the Caps’ organization.
That all changed last season, which began with an incredible highlight reel goal and ended with him tied for the Bears’ lead with 25 goals and leading the AHL with 15 power-play goals.
The Caps rewarded Galiev with a late-season call-up to fill in for injured right wing Tom Wilson and, after being pranked by his teammates and skating onto the ice alone for pre-game warmups against the Bruins, Galiev netted his first NHL goal against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in the final game of the regular season. But the real reward came on July 1 when the Caps re-signed Galiev to a two-year, two-way contract worth $1.15 million.
“He had an excellent season, from being a healthy scratch and playing in the ECHL, to maybe cracking the Caps roster,” Bears coach Troy Mann said.
“Is he ready? I guess we’ll find out in September if he can make that next step. But we were really impressed with his defensive awareness (at the NHL level). He’s really worked on becoming more of an inside player. One of his problems early on was he was really a perimeter player. Once he became that guy who would go into those traffic areas and be tough to play against, he showed that skill set and that’s a great combination.”
With T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and Wilson projected as the Caps’ top three right wings, and with Marcus Johansson’s future with the Capitals in question, Galiev could push hard for the role of fourth-line right wing with a strong preseason.
“For us as coaches, we’d like to see him in Hershey,” Mann said. “But for the organization he would be a great story if he comes in here and has a great camp and is part of that 13 forward mix.”
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