The rap on Stan Galiev has been clear in recent years and months: The kid (and he’s still 20 years old) needs to get stronger.
“Obviously,” he said laughing.
With that in mind, the Washington Capitals prospect returned to the D.C. area a month ago and has been focusing on building strength in preparation for his first professional season.
“I feel good. I feel strong now. I work out for like five weeks already,” Galiev said Thursday. “For me it’s going to be a huge season, and I want to be ready for that. This is why I came early and am training hard.”
At first glance, Galiev looks bigger, more physically imposing. Like he had a growth spurt even since July’s development camp.
“No. I don’t know,” he said. “You’re first person who told me that. I don’t know.”
Galiev was cheerful after another day on the ice at the Caps’ practice facility, this time skating with Dmitry Orlov, Michal Neuvirth, John Carlson, Jeff Halpern and others.
He’s trying not to think about a potential NHL lockout that could begin Sept. 15. Instead, Galiev is focused on trying to make the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
Galiev, who missed most of last season in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a broken right wrist, still managed to put up 13 goals and six assists in 20 games, then 16 goals and 18 assists in 17 playoff games.
Hershey coach Mark French said last month Galiev would need to work on improving his all-around game, but the winger’s overflowing talent makes him a candidate for lots of playing time right away.
“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,” French said. “He’ll have to earn that time. I think we wanted to send the message that we won’t give him anything, but I think knowing what his skill level is, is that’s where he’s best-suited.”