That doesn’t mean the Washington Capitals don’t value Galiev, as it actually means the opposite. While top-six minutes and regular playing time in the American Hockey League would’ve been beneficial for Galiev’s development, sending him down to the Hershey Bears would’ve required exposing him to waivers. The Capitals didn’t want to risk Galiev getting swiped by another team.
“It’s a tough situation for Stan and for us,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said before the trade deadline. “He’s been a late developer and he’s a little bit behind but because of the waiver rule, we have trouble getting him ice time in Hershey and getting games up here.
“We could lose him, and I don’t think we’re comfortable with cutting the cord with him yet cause we see some potential. In an ideal world, we would have like to have him going back and forth all year.”
He averaged 9 minutes 7 seconds of ice time and recorded three assists in the 24 games he played in this year, typically in a third- or fourth-line role when he’s cracked the lineup. In 67 games with the Bears last year, Galiev’s considerable skill and speed translated into production, scoring 25 goals and 20 assists. Earlier in the season, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said Galiev was “fantastic” in how handled the lack of playing time.
His speed could help Galiev get consideration for regular NHL playing time next year. MacLellan has identified creating a quicker and more offensive third line as a priority for this offseason, and Galiev could factor into those plans. Galiev said he “can be the first guy on the forecheck,” and he often saw time on the second power-play unit when he was in the lineup. As first pointed out by Russian Machine Never Breaks, Galiev attempted 14.9 shots per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, which was second to Alex Ovechkin among Washington forwards.
Galiev’s contract moves to a one-way next year (still with a cap hit of $575,000), indicating next season was the one that the organization expected him to contend for more NHL playing time. After that, Galiev hits restricted free agency, presumably when Washington will decide if he still factors into their future plans.
“It’s been tough, but I try to stay positive,” Galiev said. “You know, I understand the reason. We don’t have much injuries and team playing great, so I just have to keep my head up and be positive again. … I just tried to learn some things, you know, during a practice with some big boys, and even the game from up top can improve your game.”