Arthur Kaliyev is certainly an elite goal-scorer. His ability to put the puck past a netminder is among the best in this draft class. While he excels offensively, the total 200-foot game that Kaliyev plays leaves a lot to be desired. Is it a skill issue or could it be a lack of motor?
Hockey Card Stats
Name: Arthur Kaliyev
Club Team: Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
D.O.B: June 26th, 2001
Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Tashkent, UZB)
Fun fact: Born in Uzbekistan, Kaliyev’s family moved to Staten Island, New York when he was just two years old. He then moved to Michigan at 13 in hopes of having a career in hockey.
Ranked #21 by Cam Robinson of DOBBER PROSPECTS
Ranked #34 by HOCKEYPROSPECT.COM
Ranked #30 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS
Ranked #23 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #21 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #7 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #13 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #13 by TSN/McKenzie
Skating and Transition
Although Kaliyev has improved his skating during his tenure with the Hamilton Bulldogs, he still struggles in this department. He has a very upright skating stride which leads to a first step that doesn’t generate the kind of power that a player with his size and skill set should. His top-speed is quite good but it takes a while to get there at times. His ability to move laterally is good but nothing special. He does a good job of getting to the middle of the ice in the offensive zone. He has a tendency to avoid physical contact like a plague and his board play is lacking. He is strong on his skates when he lowers his center of gravity. He tends to be a low-motor player which leads to his flaws being out on display far more often than other prospects with similar skill levels.
The fact that Kaliyev doesn’t skate for any length of time with the puck on his stick through the middle of the ice diminishes his above-average ability to protect the puck. He is able to make basic passes through the middle of the ice but won’t wow anyone with a transitional game that drives his line. His edge work is solid and he does a good job of avoiding contact. He takes a patient approach when following a play, he allows it to develop in front of him and then jumps at the chance to involve himself offensively.
Exiting his own zone and entering the offensive zone is often left up to teammates. Kaliyev tends to be a bit more of a passenger on a line at times. The American winger is able to get to where he needs to be despite a fairly average overall skating package. While he is able to keep up with a play at the junior level, his pace and skating may both need to improve as he works to get to the next level. When Kaliyev puts in some effort, he improves on the aspects of skating that he struggles with. If a team can push him to get his motor going, he can be an extremely effective player, however, he is consistently showing a very lackadaisical effort.
For as much as Kaliyev leaves on the table in terms of 200-foot effort, his offensive game can’t be ignored. He can, and at times has been, a major difference maker. His shot is among the best in the class with only USNTDP winger Cole Caufield challenging him for the title. He has shown the ability to score in a variety of ways. One area that Kaliyev has shown immense promise in is his ability to drive the net and be strong on his skates getting a chance to score in tight. In the video below, you can see how Kaliyev makes the decision to drive the net. lowers his shoulder and bullies the defender to the front of the net. After a bit of a mess in front, the puck leaks into the net for a strong play.
Kaliyev’s biggest weapon is his one time shot. He does an excellent job of finding space in the middle of the ice or in the inside half of the circles and setting up for a bomb. He locates his shot fairly well and it hits the back of the net almost instantly. While he doesn’t have a generational release, akin to Alexander Ovechkin, he does have the ability to be a primary trigger man on an NHL powerplay. Below, you can see Kaliyev find enough space for him to open up for a shot. Once the puck finds him, he does an excellent job at putting the puck past the goalie in a hurry.
For all of the goal scoring ability that Kaliyev brings, his ability to distribute the puck as a playmaker is fairly average at best. He can identify open opponents when in his field of vision but he will rarely find a player trailing in the play or coming in on the far side of the offensive zone. He is best at passing the puck to an area and allowing his teammates to go get it. His hockey IQ isn’t an issue but it isn’t an asset. His biggest fault in the offensive zone is similar to his biggest flaw in every area of the game. It’s his desire to give a solid effort consistently. If the puck isn’t on Kaliyev’s stick, it almost seems as if he doesn’t care. In the video below, you can see Kaliyev floating around the offensive zone, unwilling to get involved in a battle along the boards or really apply a good forecheck.
The tools for Kaliyev to be an extremely dangerous offensive player at the next level are there. His goal scoring is among the best a first-year draft-eligible players in the last decade. If Kaliyev can find his drive and improve in his inconsistent motor, he could become a top-six contributor and power play monster at the next level.
Technically, Kaliyev has played in the defensive zone. Realistically, he rarely does. The area of Kakiyev’s game that has drawn the most ire in the eye of the scouting world is his defensive play. The problem with it is that he doesn’t seem to put in an effort (I feel like this is becoming a theme). He has the physical make up to be an average defender on the wing and as a winger, he doesn’t need to be an outstanding defender. His hockey IQ becomes an issue in his own end of the ice. As can be seen below, he receives a pass along the boards near the blue line. It is at this point he fails to make a good decision and essentially sets an opposing offensive player up for a clear break toward the net. Although it’s doesn’t lead to a goal, this is an issue that needs to be cleaned up in order to develop into a realistic option at a higher level of hockey.
The Uzbekistan born, American raised winger has a tendency to look lost in the defensive end of the ice. Often times losing position simply because he floats towards the blue line looking for offence. He can often get a jump on defenders by doing so, but he also leaves open areas of the ice for his opposition. When his motor is running at a high rate, he does a good job of breaking up passes and getting into shooting lanes. As the season progressed, he was given the opportunity on the penalty kill and didn’t do a poor job by most standards. He showed effort, stayed home and didn’t jump to transition to the offence while down a man. He did provide an offensive threat when he was able to corral the puck, however, his ability to win board battles was still an issue which limited Kaliyev to being the high man in the zone, primarily covering the defender and fourth forward of the power play unit. Below he shows the ability to play well positionally on the penalty kill and effectively clear the zone.
Year in Review
Red Hot Start
The start of Kaliyev’s season was outstanding. He was displaying all of the goal scoring ability that his 31-goal rookie OHL season promised and more. Through the Bulldogs winger’s first 15 games, he had 14 goals. As you can see below, Kaliyev showed good compete and got in on the forecheck. This leads to the Hamilton Bulldog having the puck on his stick before scoring a goal from below the goal line. While
Not a high percentage shot, goal scorers can score a goal from anywhere and Kaliyev more than earns his place as a goal scorer.
His performance to begin the year was lethal in the offensive zone, although it still lacked any punch in the 120 feet prior to entering the offensive zone. He showed that his shot was beginning to mature as he matures physically and he was able to execute with improved volume and efficiency.
New Year, Same Kaliyev
As the new year approached, Kaliyev’s point totals continued to blow up. As the calendar turned to 2019, the divisive prospect had 26 goals and 54 points in just 36 games. He capped his 2018 with a two-goal outing on New Year’s Eve against the Erie Otters leading the Bulldogs to a 4-3 overtime win. His hot play didn’t stop with the year as he earned CHL Player of the Week honours to open the 2019 calendar year. With 11 points in just four games, eight goals and three assists, he dominated and led the Bulldogs to seven of a possible eight points.
Finishing the season with 39 points in his final 27 games, Kaliyev showed a consistent ability to find the box score. His 51 goals and 51 assists gave him 102 points in 67 games. An impressive feat, to say the least, Kaliyev showed the ability to offensively dominate when he got his motor going. The issue of his lacking engagement was a major flaw to start the year and through some hard work and coaching, he began to show signs of improvement. Whether it’s was showing that his positioning on the penalty kill or being a little more aggressive on the forecheck he showed improvement, however minuscule it seemed at times.
Conclusion and the Draft
The fact of the matter is that Kaliyev has goal scoring talent. He has the game-changing ability with his ability to puck the puck in the net at a rate that many players can’t. Kaliyev is a goal scorer. The problem is that he isn’t much of anything else. The fact that he plays on the penalty kill in junior likely won’t translate to the next level as he doesn’t play a key role on that unit. His game physical tools should allow him to be a force in most aspects in the offensive zone if he can get into a situation that fuels his motor and gets his engine going.
The draft will likely be a time stressful time for the sniper as he may find himself in a draft day slide. He has been projected and ranked anywhere from early teens to late ’20s. Many times it just comes down to a team finding one player they like better than Kaliyev. If a team falls in love with his game-breaking shot and ability to score with ease. The task any team that drafts Kaliyev will be to light a fire under the young American winger. If that can be done, which is no sure thing, Kaliyev could be an absolute monster at the next level when it comes to the most important area of the game. Goal scoring.
Thank you for taking the deep dive on one of the most divisive forwards in this upcoming draft, Arthur Kaliyev. Come back soon for more draft prospect deep dives from the Dobber Prospects team! Leave comments below and you can always reach out to me personally on twitter at @TheTonyFerrari!
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