Over the weekend, the Kings agreed to three-year entry-level contracts with two of their 2019 draft picks, Arthur Kaliyev and Jordan Spence. The signings were confirmed Tuesday by general manager Rob Blake.
Kaliyev, who was picked 33rd overall, has spent the last three seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs; at 18 years old, he may already be too good for the OHL. He set a Bulldogs franchise record with 248 points in February and is the only player in team history to have a 100-point season. This past season, Kaliyev was a finalist for Most Outstanding Player of the Year as the league’s top-scoring right-winger.
“There isn’t any active NHLer whose skill as a shooter resembles Kaliyev’s ... His shot is better than any second-line forward in the league today.”
Kings Amateur Scout Chris Byrne told LA Kings Insider that Kaliyev made strides in his playmaking this past season to complement his shooting:
“In his first year in the OHL he was more of a shooter and didn’t have the confidence to hold the puck and make as many plays, and I thought last year showed the biggest differences in how good he was making plays and finding players. Obviously anyone can go watch him play and know that he’s an elite shooter and has one-time shooting ability and scoring ability, but I think that’s the area of his game that’s really kind of come through in the last couple of years.
Kaliyev is ineligible to play in Ontario next season, so he’ll either return to Hamilton or suit up for the Kings. His body may not be ready for the NHL yet, but it is unclear how much his game will benefit from another year in the OHL.
The Kings also agreed to terms with their fourth-round pick, Spence, who has spent the last two seasons with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Spence won Defenseman of the Year in the 2019-20 season, a year after winning QMJHL Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Amateur Scout Denis Fugere lauded Spence’s IQ on the ice:
“Regardless of whether he’s playing a slow or fast team, a bigger or smaller team, he has his head up all the time. And because of that, he’s able to see what’s going on and process and go with the right decision making in taking action.”
Spence will likely return to the QMJHL next season.
On to the links...
- Lisa Dillman from The Athletic on how the Kings can move forward with closure on the 2019-20 season. Pierre LeBrun considers how the eliminated seven can spend their down time.
- Where does Matt Roy slot in ESPN’s final rookie rankings?
- NHL players have lingering concerns about the Return to Play plan.
- Players continue to speak out in response to the George Floyd protests, as does the women’s hockey community.
- ESPN continues its build a perfect position series with defenders. No surprise how Drew Doughty factors in.