Prospect Watch: Arthur Kaliyev

Arthur Kaliyev of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldog’s (Photo Courtesy of OHL images)

Now that the trade deadline is over, and the Rangers nearly stripped the team down to bare bones (which was the right way to do it), it is time to start looking towards the 2019 NHL draft. The Rangers took three big swings in the first round of the 2018 NHL draft with Vitali Kravtsov (9th overall), K’Andre Miller (22nd overall), and Nils Lundkvist (28th overall) shooting for high upside with the picks.

The pay off, as of right now, looks like it was worth it. Kravtsov has his (pretty awful) Traktor team in the KHL playoffs where he has accounted for 29% of the goals (either scoring or assisting on them). That 29% is in the same company with guys like Artemi Panarin, Vlad Tarasenko, and Evgeny Kuznetsov in their 19-year-old year season in the KHL. K’Andre Miller is compiling points at a ridiculous rate in his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, where he has 22 in 26 games (a PPG average of .85). Those 22 points lead the Badgers, even with Miller having missed six games due to injury.

The Badgers are hopeful to have Miller back for the Big 10 playoffs. Finally we have Nils Lundkvist, who currently has 10 points in 39 games for Lulea of the SHL. For those of you unfamiliar with Lulea, they are a top-notch club in the SHL (arguably the third best league in the world), and Nils is a regular on the team as an 18-year-old. His point total at his age is in some elite company with Sami Vatanen and Erik Karlsson having similar points totals during their times in the SHL. Right now, the Rangers three first round picks are developing extremely well. We are all hopeful the good development continues, and eventually translates to the big club on Broadway in the near future.

So this brings me to the 2019 NHL draft, where the Rangers currently hold two first round picks (their own and Winnipeg’s). There is a chance for two more based on conditions (if Tampa wins the cup they will pick 31st in the first round, and if Dallas wins two playoff series where Mats Zuccarello plays at least 50% of those playoff games). What I’m going to be focusing on, and updating you on, is a player I want the Rangers to focus on with their own pick: Arthur Kaliyev. Before I dive into this, I want it to be known that I am targeting Kaliyev based on where I believe the Rangers will be picking. If they pick 1 or 2, we all know about the Hughes and Kakko campaign, but I unfortunately do not see them picking there. Right now, I believe the Rangers will finish at about eighth or ninth from the bottom. Based on projections, they are on pace for around 78 points. Last year, 78 points would have had a team picking at that eight or nine spot, so that is what I will assume. Obviously, things are subject to change if for instance, the Rangers lose more than I expect, win more than I expect, or end up in the top-3 from the lottery.

Let us first look at his background:

Kaliyev was born in Uzbekistan, and moved to the United States when he was just 11 months old. His parents moved to none other than Staten Island, making Kaliyev a New Yorker, even though he was born in a different country. Kaliyev is currently 17 years old (18 in June) playing in the OHL for the Hamilton Bulldogs. He is currently in his second season with the team. Last year as a rookie, Kaliyev made the all-rookie team for the OHL.

The type of player:

Kaliyev is a pure goal scorer. He has a lethal shot, and can score from any spot on the ice, whether it be from the dot, down low in front of the net, or in the high slot. Aside from his tremendous release, Kaliyev is a big body 17-year-old standing at 6 foot 2, and 190 pounds. He is able to get inside defenders with his size and get good looks from the slot. As for on the dot, he has an Ovechkin-type mentality where he can just let shots go and blow pucks by goaltenders, especially on the power play. Kaliyev also has a great set of hands where he is able to put moves on defenders and create lanes for himself to shoot. His release is his biggest weapon in that when he does pull off a dangle, or is able to drop in between the dots through defenders, he can still snap off a great shot. The one knock on Kaliyev is his skating ability. As most pure goal scorers go, what they have in their hands, they lack in their feet. I’m not saying Kaliyev skates as if he has lead in his boots; it’s just the one part of his game that is not top-notch. The Rangers passed on Oliver Wahlstrom last year for Vitali Kravtsov (which we are all more than happy about), but Wahlstrom is a pure goal scorer, and I believe the Rangers still lack that. I believe that Kaliyev can be that guy for them.

To summarize, Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects had this to say about Arthur Kaliyev:

“A shoot-first winger who knows how to find the back of the net. Somewhat one-dimensional at times but that dimension has produced 24 goals in 34 OHL games this season. Drives into the hard areas and protects the puck well.” – Robinson on December 20th, 2018.

Kaliyev’s Statistics:

As mentioned before, in his first year with the Bulldogs in the OHL, Kaliyev shined as a 16-year-old making the OHL’s all-rookie team. Kaliyev finished the season with 48 points in 68 games. 31 of those 48 points came in the form of goals. His 31 goals were the most by any 16-year-old OHL’er since Alex Galchenyuk scored 31 in 2010-2011. Kaliyev is currently in his second year with the Bulldogs during his now draft-eligible year. Here is where I will continue to update you on his progress throughout the remainder of the season:


Here are Kaliyev’s 3 goals from this past Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The first goal was a basic odd-man rush in which he got involved with the play and buried it home, but notice his other two goals. His second goal he makes a good read on his teammates decision and peels towards the front of the net where he receives a pass and hammers it home. His third goal is what in the league they consider a “dirty goal”. One where a player gets in deep on a goaltender and stuffs the puck in his pads 2-3 times before putting it to the back of the net. For a “pure goal scorer” those are not really what they call “goal scorer’s goals” but more of hard working goals. I love this about Kaliyev because he is willing to get to some dirty areas to bury pucks rather than just use his incredible release from outside the dots to just score. You can tell how big of a kid he is at just 17 years old, and he uses it to his benefit here on those three goals.
Here is a 5 minute, 24 second highlight reel of Kaliyev. Some things to notice about this tape: As mentioned before, Kaliyev can score from pretty much anywhere on the ice and this video displays that. He uses his size and hands to get inside defenders to get to the slot and rip a shot, he can work the dots and even play the “bump” position on the power play, and he is not afraid to get low and score those dirty goals. The two biggest things that stand out to me are first, Kaliyev’s ability to play on the half wall (see “Secondary Assist” at the 1:37 mark of the video) . Yes, he is at his deadliest when he waits to retrieve a pass and blow a shot by a goaltender, but he is very good with the puck on his stick there too. He has an excellent ability to read the ice, and that comes from his goal scoring ability. Which brings me to my second big thing regarding Kaliyev and that’s his ability to read and react. Most of Kaliyev’s goals come from a set-up in the offensive zone that he lets rip and puts in the back in the net. As you can see in this tape, Kaliyev reads his teammates so well and finds the soft parts of the ice where he can retrieve a pass and have enough time and space to show off his incredible release (see “First Career Goal” at the :22 second mark of video). During that clip, the puck starts from behind the goal line. The player with the puck below the goal line passes it to the Bulldog standing on the dot before feeding Kaliyev. Before the primary assist-man even has the puck, notice Kaliyev peel away from the defender creating space long before the puck is going to get to him. He knows the puck will eventually end up on his stick and he will hammer it home. That is what is called a “goal scorers goal” – the ability to read a play while developing and finish it with a goal. This is something that most pure goal scorers can do, and Kaliyev shows here that his read and react ability is excellent. Oh, and not to mention his hands which are pretty incredible as well.

2018-2019 non-OHL Statistics:

Hlinka Gretzky Cup: 5 games: 3 goals – 3 assists – 6 points

2018 – 2019 OHL Statistics with the Hamilton Bulldogs

As of February 27, 2019:

Hamilton Bulldogs: 60 games: 47 goals – 46 assists – 93 points

Staff Writer James Van Casternen will be updating you weekly on Kaliyev’s progress. Featured image courtesy of OHL images.

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