Ben Raby, wtop.com
ARLINGTON, Va. - Of the 46 prospects at the Washington Capitals' development camp this week, only a handful will be invited to the team's main training camp in September. Within that smaller group, there may only be one or two players with any shot at making the Caps' opening night roster.
It's not a stretch to count Stanislav Galiev among that elite group of prospects. "That's my dream and I'll work hard for it," Galiev said of making the Capitals out of camp.
Galiev is participating in his third development camp since 2010 and after spending the past three years playing junior hockey in Canada, the 20-year-old is now gearing up for his first season as a pro.
Given that lack of professional experience though, Galiev could begin the year with the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears. That would be similar to the path taken a year ago by prospects Dmitry Orlov and Cody Eakin who went on to play 90 NHL games between them by season's end.
"In talking to his junior coach," said Bears head coach Mark French, "everybody raves about two things: That he's a very good kid- very coachable- and very North Americanized. But he's got an unbelievable skill set. He sees the ice very well and he's got a very good shot that's going to allow him to score."
The Capitals selected Galiev in the third round (86th overall) in the 2010 entry draft and then watched the Moscow native develop into an elite scorer with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Saint John Sea Dogs.
Galiev averaged a point-per-game in his last two regular-seasons with St. John (84 points in 84 games) and proved to be an elite playoff performer with 61 points in 36 playoff games the past two years.
"It's been a great few years for me in St. John. I learned a lot from [head coach] Gerard [Gallant], it was a great team and it just helped me."
Galiev led the QMJHL in playoff scoring last season with 16 goals and 34 points in 17 games, playing primarily with a pair of first round draft picks in Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips (both Minnesota Wild prospects). The Sea Dogs went 16-1 in the postseason and were crowned league champions for the second straight year. The playoff success was particularly special for Galiev after undergoing wrist surgery during the regular-season and missing 48 games. The right winger said Monday that he's "fresh" and that the injury is behind him.
As for what lies ahead, the 6 feet 1 inch 188-pound Galiev admits that he still needs to fill out and get stronger. There is also the matter of improving his game without the puck.
"I think it's [a matter of] well-rounding his game," French said, "and understanding what his strengths are. We certainly don't want to take away those strengths, but maybe refine other areas of his game."
Those strengths lie in Galiev's offensive game and French is already looking forward to putting them to use among his top six forwards in Hershey.
"I think ultimately that's probably where he needs to play to best use his skills. I think we're probably looking at him in that role, putting him with some veteran guys that can complement some of his skill level. He'll have to earn that time. I think we want to send the message that we won't give him anything, but I think knowing what his skill level is, that's where he's best-suited."
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