Our seventh annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings and the staff rankings to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 2, 2019, when the 2019-20 NHL season begins.
I don’t know about you, but when the Kings passed on the goal scoring machine known as Arthur Kaliyev aka King Arthur with their 22nd pick last June I was nothing but salty. The Kings need scoring, amirite? Then when it was time for the number 33 pick and he was still available I switched to “they better pick him now” mode. Sure enough, they did and I can almost guarantee you that the Kings will never regret this selection.
Seems to be that the rest of the teams—most in the same position as the goal-needing Kings—bought into the early gossip that Kaliyev possessed a low compete level and may have sported an attitude issue.
One conversation with Vince Laise, his OHL coach, and those concerns should have been completely washed away:
“Arthur is one of the most dynamic players I’ve coached in the OHL in my six years here. I coached Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. In my opinion, Arthur is just as good a player as either of those two. They differ in play styles, but all achieve what NHL organizations look for. Arthur is more than just a power play producer, his underlying value is his ability to produce at even strength and his playmaking. He’s been as coachable as they come and a pleasure to work with.”
True to form, Kaliyev picked up right where his OHL career ended in the World Junior Summer Showcase:
ICYMI: Arthur Kaliyev loves scoring goals— LA Kings (@LAKings) August 2, 2019
We love goals.
We love @Arthur_Kaliyev.
Let’s recap what the Kings have with their 2019 33rd draft pick. Arthur Kaliyev has one singular skill you can’t teach: Puck Luck [anyone remember Luc Robitaille?]. He scores and he scores at will. Nothing seems to stop him. He’s that guy you dismiss because he’s not Coonor McDavid fast or flashy like Nikita Kucherov, but at the end of a 6-4 win, he’s the guy with a goal and an assist being called out for the first star selection. He has an Alex Ovechkin-level one-timer that makes him impossible to game plan. He’s a pure sniper with an outstanding wrist shot and quick release. He pick corners that will baffle goaltenders with his accuracy. And so not get your hopes up too much, let’s not mention his remarkable backhand and his skilled passing. All of that and he just turned 18 on June 26th.
If you scour the prospect boards, there are many who pick nits on Kaliyev, but none of them scorched him the way McKeens Hockey did:
“Not being fast is unfortunate, but not moving one’s feet is enough to bring a coach to anger and to cause a scout to move on to the next game. If he loses a puck battle along the boards, he may just give up on the play altogether, and sulk for a moment while the opposition flies back to his zone. All of the effort that he showed when he still had a chance to grab the puck is gone and he eventually slow walks back to his zone, the last man to join the defensive effort.”
One thing is for certain: the Kings don’t put much stock in Kaliyev’s detractors regarding his play as a seventeen year-old. Ever since the Mike Richards and Slava Voynov situations, the Kings have worked tirelessly to ensure everyone they bring into the organization has excellent character and works hard on the ice. Kaliyev is no exception to this mandate.
Rob Blake spoke with LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen and dismissed the eyebrow raisers:
“The further you go back, there are going to be different things. But you score 50 goals, I’m not sure you can do that without competing. It’s going to be very hard to. Now, how you rate your compete, there’s different ways to do it, but scoring 50 goals is difficult to do, so there has to be a level of compete in that. Like I said, the homework with Steve Staios and with Chris Byrne and Bryan Denney in that area, and Mark Yannetti, I wasn’t concerned on that aspect.”
Kaliyev sees himself as Rick Nash 2.0, modeling himself as a strong, offensive player who can make plays. ”Offense, creating scoring chances, playmaking,” Kaliyev said of his play.
Anyone who watched the anemic Kings offense over the past decade should be salivating at the thought of coronating King Arthur as a future Calder Trophy candidate.
And now...a look at the staff and fan voting...