When every other NHL team was running away from Russians and toward Americans in this year’s entry draft, the Washington Capitals used two of their top three picks on skilled Russians. One of them was Moscow native Stanislav Galiev, taken in the third round with the 86th overall pick.
Many teams were nervous about the “Russian factor,” meaning the players would never end up playing in North America and would instead sign KHL contracts. However, Galiev has made it clear he will not be one of those players. He left Russia at 16, knowing little to no English, and came to America to play for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey league for the 2008-2009 season. He spent the 2009-2010 season playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Galiev tallied 29 goals and 64 points in 60 games for the Ice as they won the Clark Cup championship. He followed up that standout season with 15 goals and 60 points for the Sea Dogs in 67 games. He added 8 goals and 19 points in 21 playoff games for Saint John and played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game.
Even though he was ranked 20th among North American skaters (he counted in the North American rankings because he had played here), Galiev unexpectedly dropped to the low third round. The obvious eagerness to play on this side of the Atlantic was apparently not enough to quell some teams’ fear of the Russian factor. The Capitals don’t have that fear because they feel the Russian contingent they already have will encourage other Russians to leave the motherland to play alongside heroes Alec Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Semyon Varlamov.
In Galiev’s case this is possibly more true, for he has mentioned in several interviews long before he was drafted that the Capitals are his favorite NHL team. His favorite player? Alexander Semin, whom he tries to model his game after.
Galiev’s game is a lot like Semin’s. He is extremely skilled, with great vision and the hands to thread the puck exactly where he wants it to go. At 6’1, 178 lbs, Galiev still has some filling out to do. He has a large frame and doesn’t shy away from physicality, so as he gets stronger that will add another element to his game. He also needs to sure up his defensive zone play a little bit before making the next step.
At a time of so much tension and drama between North American and Russian hockey, Galiev successfully bridged the gap. He has committed to playing in North America, which is something few Russian prospects are willing to do considering what they know they can get in terms of money and security from the KHL. It worked out for Galiev, who is now property of his favorite team with the chance to play alongside his favorite player.