Stanislav Galiev, teeing it up (and tearing it up) for the Memorial Cup defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs.
(Photo courtesy of Station Nation and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Isurus-Photography/72976428093" target="new">Marc Henwood</a>)
Ed. Note: Caps prospect forward Stanislav Galiev will be graduating from the ranks of major junior hockey this spring after an injury-shortened season that limited him to 20 regular season games in which he missed matching last season's point-per-game pace by a hair.
Jamie Tozer is the editor-in-chief of Station Nation, the "unreal blog" about the Saint John Sea Dogs, and he's seen most of Galiev's games over the past three years. I've had the great pleasure of corresponding with Jamie for the past two years, and he graciously agreed to share some of his observations.
Q: Stas Galiev just played (netting a goal and an assist!) in the final regular season game of his major junior career. You've been watching him for three successful seasons. Can you recall your first impressions?
A: There was a bit of controversy over the Sea Dogs selecting him first overall in the 2009 CHL Import Draft. Saint John had the first and fourth overall picks that year and they used them to pick Galiev and Tomas Jurco
, allowing the rival Moncton Wildcats
(who play an hour up the highway) to take the then highly touted Kirill Kabanov
seventh overall. From a fan perspective, the Import Draft is really weird. You keep refreshing the CHL website to see which player your team took, a player you have most often never heard of, know nothing about, and can’t locate their hometown on a map. Everyone knew who Kabanov was while not many knew who either Galiev or Jurco was. So obviously, there was some controversy. Looking back now, Saint John certainly made the right moves that day.
He made a good first impression with his on-ice play, scoring the Sea Dogs’ first goal of the season in 2009-10. You could tell he would be an impact player.
Q: On Draft Day 2010 in DC, we originally thought he was a pure goal scorer. But he seems to have developed a more physical, defensive game as well. How has his game evolved?
A: He’s definitely gotten better defensively, and that is something I think comes with age and experience at this level. His increase in physical play has been very noticeable and has improved a lot since his rookie year. He doesn’t shy away from corners or any battles.
Q: A question that comes up from time to time is whether he is merely a passenger on a historically great juggernaut team. Exhibit A is the Sea Dogs' success over this season, when G was rehabbing his wrist injury for months and the Dogs kept on winning. How would you respond?
A: That’s a tough question. The thing is this: among this star-filled lineup, Galiev is able to stick out. He’s the kind of player that you remember watching after the game. Not every goal he scores is an easy tap-in. He’s not just out there floating and picking up secondary assists. He is able to make an impact and it shows. If he played for a weaker team, would his point total be as high? Probably not. If he played for a weaker team, would his point total still be up there? I think it would.
Q: He does not seem to take many faceoffs. Are the Saint John centermen just that much better? What is your impression of Galiev in the dot?
A: Saint John has had some good centermen over the past few seasons so they haven’t really needed Galiev to take many draws. They have Danick Gauthier
, Zack Phillips
, and Charlie Coyle
this year and had Michael Kirkpatrick
last year as the big faceoff guys. He’s taken so few draws I really don’t how good he is at them.
Q: Is there a particular facet of his game that has frustrated the team's fans (and bloggers?) What makes people say "If only he would (or would not)..."
A: I wish he would shoot more sometimes. He has a wicked shot. Not getting his wrist broken again would be cool, too.
Q: Is there a particular facet of his game that makes folks sit up and go "wow?"
A: His speed and his shot. Every once in a while he will blow you away with a burst of speed. Same thing with his shot. You may not always notice it, but his shot is extremely quick and hard
Q: Why should Caps fans be excited to see him begin his pro career?
A: He was an absolute beast in the playoffs and in the Memorial Cup last season. If he can be that beast on consistent occasion at the pro level, Caps fans should have a lot to be excited about.
Q: And finally, what will you miss about covering him as he graduates from Station Nation?
A: It’s going to be weird next year. The core group of Galiev, Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu
, Tomas Jurco, and Jonathan Huberdeau
will all probably be gone. It’s been quite an experience covering this generation of the team. I think I’ll miss the overall skill of Galiev and the forwards the most. You never what these guys are going to do on the ice. But at the same time, I’m looking forward to seeing what the new crop of players looks like come August. That’s junior hockey for ya.