Tuesday night could be a big one for Stanislav Galiev.
Galiev, the skilled Russian winger that’s only appeared in 13 games this year, will replace the “suspended” Alex Ovechkin on Washington’s top line tonight — next to Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie — when the Caps host the Panthers at Verizon.
(Ovechkin’s “suspension” is the one game he’s forced to sit out after missing he 2016 NHL All-Star weekend in Nashville.)
For the 24-year-old Galiev, this is a pretty huge moment.
He’s been “stuck” in the NHL for most of this year because of his contractual situation — since he’s no longer exempt from waivers, the Caps are loathe to try and pass him through, for fear of a team making a claim. But clearing waivers is the only way Galiev could get down to AHL Hershey, which would undoubtedly serve his development better than eating popcorn in the press box on a near-nightly basis.
Galiev did get to play five games for the Bears earlier this year but, because he was there on a conditioning assignment, he couldn’t stay longer than two weeks.
As for tonight?
Caps head coach Barry Trotz figured he should give Galiev a run with two talented offensive players, a decision that was also swayed by not wanting to break up the chemistry of other lines.
“He’ll have some fresh legs, obviously,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I have a sort of secondary plan. I don’t want to break up every line just because we’re missing two guys. I’d like to just sort of keep as much as I can in control, and then I sort of have a secondary plan for lines, so we’ll just sort of feel it out and see who’s going. There might be lots of changes on the lines, or they might not.”