More Draft Speculation: Look Out For Stanislav Galiev

The NHL Draft is a bit of a crapshoot moreso than, say, the NFL or NBA Drafts. Beyond the first few picks, drafting is done with an eye towards three-to-five years from the date of acquisition.  Most teams don't go into the draft looking to address an immediate need, since:

1) There are few players who help you immediately.

and

2) The players who can help you immediately are good enough that they will be drafted regardless of your positional needs:  (see: Crosby, Doughty, Stamkos, Tavares, etc.). 

Where the Penguins are drafting, and with a team that is already strong, you won't be drafting to fill in immediate needs like the team did when they moved up to grab Fleury.  You're looking more to where there are holes in the farm system that will need filled.  That being said, there are several directions that the organization could go.

Yesterday, I threw out a couple of names could be looked at as gambles - players coming off of disappointing seasons and possibly having other issues for a team to worry about.  Today, I'll propose another name that might make some sense for the Penguins as a slight gamble from a different perspective: Stanislav Galiev.

The 6'1", 178-pound Russian winger finished fourth in scoring on a very strong Saint John Sea Dogs team that lost in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League finals this past season.  Galiev finished the regular season with 15 goals and 45 assists, his assist total finishing second on the Sea Dogs.

If the Sea Dogs sound familiar to you, that's because they feature two current Penguins prospects, defenseman Simon Despres (1st Round, 2009) and winger Nicholas Peterson (4th Round, 2009).  Surely, then, the Penguins should have seen plenty of Galiev over the course of the last two seasons.

Here is Galiev making a good run to the net to finish off a nice passing sequence before celebrating with Peterson and Despres:

Galiev is widely considered a player with considerable offensive upside and atypical Russian flair, though his streaky tendencies have left some scouts cold on his future.

TSN's generally reliable draft rankings have Galiev ranked 40th, which may make the Penguins reaching for him at 20th seem like the Pens are aiming a bit low for their position.  However, as Adam Kimmelman told the Nashville Predators' official website, the first round may not be that much of a stretch for Galiev:

Stanislav Galiev from the Saint John Sea Dogs helped his team to the QMJHL Finals; that might have motivated a couple of teams to move him up a little on their draft boards – maybe into the second half of the first round.

...right about where the Penguins draft.  Kimmelman touched on another item that may make him a more attractive pick than someone like Kuznetsov. 

He’s an interesting story from the Russia standpoint. This is his second year in North America, so it’s not a case of a kid just coming over in his draft year; he more than any Russian player that I’ve seen has made a commitment to playing on this side of the Ocean. He played last year with Indiana in the USHL and now this year with Saint John (QMJHL), so I think of any of the Russian born players he’s the least likely to give teams pause.

So, whereas some teams may be worried about a player like Kuznetsov with a professional contract in Europe being unwilling to jump the pond, Galiev has already shown his desire to play in North America by coming over at a young age, especially compared to most Europeans. 

And, get ready for this one... he can already speak English!

This is, as the title suggests, all speculation, but don't be surprised if the Penguins buck their historical trend of reaching for high-potential, volatile prospects in this portion of the draft, and instead bring in a kid who looks to have a bright future ahead of him at much less of a risk.

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