The Los Angeles Kings were lucky to draft winger Arthur Kaliyev in Round 2 of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft as he was projected to go in Round 1.
Now that 2 years have gone by since he was drafted, has anything changed?
In Kaliyevs last OHL season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, he was lighting the lamp at a pace unheard of. In fact his last 3 OHL seasons, he scored 126 goals, an average of 42 goals per season. Scouts and fans started to notice that he was putting up both goals and points, but nothing else was happening.
Since being drafted, Kaliyev has, in fact, changed his game. The explosive offense and goal-scoring potential are still there. However, he has fine-tuned his game to be a complete 200-foot player. He has defined his defensive game and has concentrated more in the defensive zone. Is he going to win a Selke Trophy in the NHL? Maybe not, but the fact that he worked on his defensive game to be a better player not only for himself but also for this teammates should be noted.
The hard work resulted in a one-game call-up to the Kings from the AHL affiliate Ontario Reign. Not only did he score his first NHL goal in his only game, but he did not look out of place or uncomfortable. This looks good for him to occupy a spot next year or get in more games during the 2021-22 NHL season.
Kaliyev has played himself into serious contention for a full-time roster spot and should be in the top 6 sooner than later.
The question is will that happen this season or next?
That question would most likely be answered during training camp.
Let’s hope this young gun performs to its fullest capabilities.
Featured Image: Jack Harris/Los Angeles Times