Galiev picked up hockey quick on this side of Atlantic
/ Edmonton Oilers
Stanislav Galiev received a first-hand education on North American hockey last season. Now he's putting those lessons to very good use.
In his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Galiev led all first-year players with 45 assists and a plus-41 rating, and he was second with 60 points. The 6-foot, 177-pound right wing is No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.
His play helped the Sea Dogs finish with a league-best 109 points, and he had 2 goals and 5 points in a five-game first-round series win against PEI.
"He's a great skater, great acceleration," Chris Bordeleau, Central Scouting's top QMJHL scout, told NHL.com. "He plays in all situations, has good vision and hockey sense."
That's something Saint John coach Gerard Gallant has seen first-hand since the Sea Dogs traded up to choose Galiev with the first pick of this past summer's CHL Import Draft.
"We saw him in exhibition games, and I knew then we had a pretty special hockey player," Gallant told NHL.com. "He's got great vision, he's a great playmaker. He's a very highly skilled player."
More than his treasure trove of abilities, Gallant likes the Moscow native's work ethic.
"What I like about him is he's a young player coming over here, and they say they (Russian players) don't play defense hard enough, don't work hard enough or compete hard enough. But he backchecks as hard as anybody on our team, he works as hard as anybody on our team, he hits as hard as anybody on our team. With the skill, he's a hard-working kid."
Galiev doesn't mind playing with an edge to his game. It's why he chose to come to North America in the first place, rather than stay home in Russia.
"I think hockey in Canada is better," Galiev told NHL.com. "It's better for me because I like to play faster hockey. I like this style of game. It's more physical, so it's better for me, good experience."
He got his first taste of that experience last season, when he played for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. He was tied for sixth in the league with 29 goals (12 on the power play) and seventh in scoring with 64 points, and he led the league with 7 game-winning goals.
And he did it all while living in a new country and learning a new language from scratch. When asked how much English he knew before arriving in Indiana, he said simply, "None."
Galiev showed himself to be a quick learner, as his English now is flawless.
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"His English is A-1," said Gallant. "He speaks perfect English and he's adjusted very well. That year in the USHL helped a lot."
What also helps is that this season is having a roommate to keep him company -- his mother, Svetlana, who he shares a home with in Saint John. She made a few small visits to Indiana last season, but this season the family has been together full time.
"It's better when you get parents with you," Galiev said. "My mom cooks for me."
Mother and son have made a pretty solid pairing of their own. It was Svetlana who took Stanislav to his first hockey game, and it she's the one who signed off on his jump across the Atlantic.
"Maybe four years ago, I'd been in Chicago for a tournament and I liked the way the team played and I said I want to try playing in the USA," said Galiev. After some though, Svetlana agreed. "It was my life and my mom was OK."
Galiev hasn't completely left his Russian roots behind. He lists his favorite players as Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
"Semin, he's my favorite player," said Galiev. "I want to be him. He's smart on the ice and so dangerous on the ice."
Gallant, who played and coached in the NHL, thinks the Semin comparison is a fair one.
"Semin has a terrific shot, plays very hard," said Gallant. "It took him a few years to get there. He could be like a Semin. But I think he plays a little harder." Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com