“I remember I was so nervous,” Galiev said with a smile. “It was my first NHL camp. . . . I just watched those guys a lot.”
After a successful junior career, Galiev, a third-round draft pick in 2010, will begin his professional career this fall, likely starting out with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. He entered this week’s Capitals development camp, his third, as one of the organization’s most promising prospects and with a newfound feeling that a strong showing could boost his case for a speedy jump to the NHL.
Earlier this month, General Manager George McPhee said he wanted to watch Galiev this week to get a better gauge on where he might fit into the organization’s plans for the upcoming season. Galiev said he met with McPhee soon after arriving in the area late last week and promised to keep working hard.
“It’s been a big camp, and it’s helped me.” Galiev said. “Now it’s my third camp, and I try to help the guys in the locker room, too.”
Hershey Coach Mark French said Galiev projects as a top-six forward, who should have the skills to contribute immediately at the AHL level. French added that the perpetually smiling prospect should get even better as he becomes a more complete player and adds a little more bulk to his 6-foot-1, 188-pound frame.
“In talking to his junior coaches, everybody raves about two things: that he’s a very good kid, very coachable, very North Americanized,” French said. “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.”
Galiev’s stock has continued to rise since he came to the United States four years ago to play with the USHL’s Indiana Ice. It was a move that allowed him ample time to adjust to the North American game and culture.
After a year in the USHL, Galiev joined Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In three seasons with the Sea Dogs, Galiev recorded 144 points (65 goals, 79 assists) in 151 games.
A broken wrist sidelined Galiev for much of last season, but he returned to lead the Sea Dogs to their second consecutive QMJHL championship, posting 34 points in 17 playoff games. While his injury kept him from lifting weights for several months, he can bench-press once again. He has spent his summer actively trying to add muscle in preparation for the rigors of pro competition.
Now Galiev is ready for the next challenge.
“This is going to be my first year in pro and it’s going to be everything different,” Galiev said. “It’s no more juniors, and it’s the next level.”