Sitting in the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Sudbury, Ontario, on a frigid Saturday morning in November, LA Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev obliges my request to review a Twitter thread of all his Ontario Hockey League goals this season.
As he cranes his neck to peer at my computer screen, I ask him which of his 27 goals stick out to him the most. He sits patiently as we scroll through his highlight reel.
Any later in the year and this task would be made considerably more difficult. The Hamilton Bulldogs right winger, known to his teammates as Arty, is currently averaging over a goal-per-game. If he maintains that torrid pace, he'll finish with 71 goals, surpassing his 51-goal campaign as a 17-year-old sophomore.
As I continue to scroll, Kaliyev seemingly laughs at the absurdity of the assignment. "I don't know which one could it be," he says. "Tough to say actually."
For me, it's an easy exercise. There's one that comes to my mind right away. In a game against the Barrie Colts, on October 14, Kaliyev collected the puck behind the net, scooped it up, and popped it into the top of the net as if he were wielding a lacrosse stick.
Kaliyev has established a name for himself as a fearsome one-timer specialist, but seeing him pull off the famed 'Michigan goal,' with such ease makes you realize how much of a gifted scorer he is.
But Kaliyev doesn't bite on that one. The lacrosse-style goal is impressive, but it's not the one that sticks out for him. Instead, he points to his 19th goal. A crisp shot late in a game against the Ottawa 67s. "I liked that one," Kaliyev divulges. "It went triple post and in."
I typically include a caption for every goal, but for that one I just used the dartboard emoji. When I attempt to justify my laziness to him by pointing out that it was, in fact, a dart, Kaliyev just shrugs it off with another laugh.
Just as I'm about to close my computer, Kaliyev interjects. "And the one-timer against Kingston. That one, too," he says. "It's hard to see but it went out and in."
It's the kind of a goal that Kaliyev has become known for; a lethal one-timer from the faceoff circle to the left of the goaltender. Despite his well-earned reputation for rifling in pucks from that area, the Frontenacs left Kaliyev all alone. A costly mistake.
Teams should know by now that he rarely misses from there. And for good reason.
Kaliyev has been working on that shot for years. From his early playing days on Staten Island, New York, where Kaliyev and his family immigrated to from Uzbekistan when he was 11 months old, to the famed Little Caesars hockey program in Detroit, Michigan, the winger has been honing his skills.
Kaliyev remembers practicing his shot every day from an early age. "Since I was a young kid. Everywhere. On and off the ice. Every day," he reflected.
Although he's scored over 100 goals with the Bulldogs and established himself as the league's premier sniper, he continues to work at it daily. Depending on the day, he estimates that he is still shooting hundreds of pucks.
Given his proficiency with the one-timer, it would be easy to make comparisons to Ovechkin, but Kaliyev has much more in his arsenal. He has an uncanny nose for the net that allows him to find space and get open, a skill that his teammates are all too eager to take advantage of.
After Kaliyev was selected 33rd overall by the Kings in the 2019 NHL Entry, he spent the summer in Los Angeles working with the club's Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Matt Price. It was a great experience for the Staten Island native, who says he worked on every aspect of his game.
"Everything. Trying to get faster, stronger. Just working on everything you can," he explained.
Video: Kings draft F Arthur Kaliyev No. 33
That hard work certainly looks like it is paying off early into the season. Although the Bulldogs still have 46 games on the calendar, Kaliyev is well on his way to shattering his career-high in goals.
If he reaches the 50-goal mark again this campaign, he will become just the fifth player in the OHL in the last two decades to record back-to-back 50-goal seasons. Among the players in that group that Kaliyev is chasing is likely a future teammate, Tyler Toffoli, who accomplished the feat with the Ottawa 67's in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
By the time this season ends, Kaliyev's goal thread will probably have tripled in length. Whenever he graduates from the OHL, it's within the realm of possibility that he could finish among the top five all-time for most goals.
At that point, someone will have to start a new thread for all the goals he will hopefully score for the Kings.