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Arthur Kaliyev is either the scoring winger of your dreams, or your nightmares.

One of the leaders in 5on5 point production in the OHL this year as a 17 year old has plenty of tools to be a beloved household name...and also the bane of just as many people.

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I can see, read, and feel the emotions and reactions to this guy the second he hits NHL ice for the first time.

He will be hailed for being the ultimate elusive goalscorer. Fans will be furious a guy so seemingly nondescript on the forecheck and that big was able to get behind the defense and score from an impossible angle. And what impossible angles they will be.

He will also be pilloried for seemingly being a bit lost in his own end, being a one-dimensional goalscorer, and not being the most involved on the backend. Also because of his name a lot of people are gonna throw the ol’ “Russians are emotional and not tough” chestnut at him in spite of him being an american citizen. Because why let logic get in the way of that xenophobia?

Kaliyev is a canadian junior staple: “The only objectively great part of a team going through some lean times”, and he embodied that overly narrow superlative to perfection by having over 102 points as a 17 year old for the Hamilton Bulldogs, with an even split of 51 goals and 51 assists. The next closest player had almost 30 less points. He was one of the OHL’s best 5-on-5 point-getters of 2018. And a big part of how he did it is that his game lives in the space between defenses. For such a big guy, his offensive instincts are unparalleled for someone so young, torching defenses from Erie, PA to Peterborough. And his shot is interesting in that it’s...unbeatable, for whatever reason?

Like, it’s obviously a hard shot, but there’s something about how calculated it is that makes it so deadly. He’s figured out exactly how he’s getting past your goaltender the minute he entered the offensive zone, and if you don’t like it? Well...Tough. It’s happening either way, bucko. His quick windup slapshot has the umph behind it of a howitzer and he applies it so naturally and so smoothly you’d swear it was just him taking a warmup shot that goes in...during the middle of a game. Even passes that kinda bobble on his stick he’s able to turn into a dangerous chance. Made even better is his deep, vested interest in following up the odd shot that doesn’t go in by following the puck to the boards and continuing the play, ensuring that if Hamilton wasn’t gonna get their chance with that first shot, the next two will be just as dangerous.

So if he’s as good as they say, and has had such a crazy year...why is he potentially projected to end up in the late first round at all? Wouldn’t he be a top 10 pick?

And you’d be right if not for a couple of problem areas for Kaliyev, which unfortunately for him can be a pretty harsh dealbreaker for some: He’s not that fast, and he’s not really that great of a defender. For the crowd that values size, there might never be something that kills their interest in a prospect more than finding out that while he’s a pretty big boy, he’s not very interested in actually using it to stop chances along the boards, preferring to use positioning to help defend and...his defensive positioning needs work. If he gets picked, it will have to be an absolute priority for his development.

But far more concerning, especially for an offense-first guy, is his skating speed, which at best could be described as “methodical”, and on his worst day, “Plodding”. His acceleration and max speed aren’t very impressive, and in a league that is all about both of those things, you’re looking at a guy whose gonna need a bunch of work in Hamilton and then Providence to get up to snuff.

But...and this is a big one...if you can help him pull all that together, there’s a really and I mean really good chance he could have top six upside at the very worst. His shot and his offensive instincts are so far above who/what he’s dealing with in the CHL right now it’s not even close to funny. He could be a terror for opposing defenses for years to come.

Or you could do the cheap thing like the Jets do with Laine and stick him with a center good enough to carry him like a backpack. That’s also a thing you could do.

Rankings by the experts:

  • #34th by
  • #30th by Future Considerations
  • #23rd by ISS Hockey
  • #21st by McKeen’s Hockey
  • #7th by Central Scouting among North Americans
  • #13th by
  • #13th by TSN/McKenzie


Season Team Games Played Goals Assists Points Penalty Minutes
Season Team Games Played Goals Assists Points Penalty Minutes
2014-15 Little Caesars Bantam Major AAA 16 5 3 8 4
2015-16 Little Caesars U15 N/A N/A N/A
2016-17 Compuware U16 19 13 5 18 2
2017-18 Hamilton Bulldogs 68 31 17 48 20
2018-19 Hamilton Bulldogs 67 51 51 102 22