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Kaliyev's unique stick work makes him top prospect for 2019 NHL Draft

Explosive scorer not a fan of tape on blade

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.


Arthur Kaliyev has become one of the most prolific goal-scorers available in the 2019 NHL Draft by taking a different approach than most players.

Very little tape on his stickblade.

"I've tried tape on the blade before and I'm not a big fan," Kaliyev said. "I'll maybe put on a short piece, but that's it. I guess I like to have the puck slide off the stick. I do like the tape at the butt-end of the stick though. I'll put an entire roll on top."

Kaliyev's plan has worked for him. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right wing was fourth in the OHL with 51 in 67 games, his 20 power-play goals were second and his 102 points, which included 51 assists, were sixth.

It's the second straight season he's scored at least 30, after he scored 31 times in 68 games last season. He was the first 16-year-old OHL player with at least 30 goals since Alex Galchenyuk (Arizona Coyotes) scored 31 for Sarnia in 2010-11.

In Kaliyev's two OHL seasons he has 150 points (82 goals, 68 assists) in 135 games.

He's No. 11 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.

"His shot and hockey IQ will get him to the next level," Karl Stewart of NHL Central Scouting said. "He never really holds onto the puck for very long and knows what he's going to do with it before he even gets it on his stick."

At no time was that more evident than during the 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta, on Jan. 23, when Kaliyev scored his first of two goals on a one-timer from the right face-off circle to open the scoring.

Tweet from @CHLHockey: ���Excellent scorer with elite offensive hockey sense - very smart at getting in position for a quality scoring chance.���The report on @arthurkaliyev34 of @BulldogsOHL is bang on 🚨#SWTP 🎥

"He puts himself into open areas so when he gets it he has time and space to make a play," Stewart said. "In traffic he can do the same thing because he's such a smart hockey player. Then you mix in the fact he's got an NHL-caliber shot right now. He can score from anywhere."

Kaliyev was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but moved to Staten Island, New York, when he was 2 years old. At 14, he moved to Michigan to continue his development in the Little Caesars and Compuware youth hockey programs before being chosen by Hamilton in the second round (No. 26) of the 2017 OHL draft.

"I wanted to play against better competition and the best players so that's why I came to the Ontario Hockey League," he said. "Playing in Michigan prepared me for the OHL because it was more physical and a lot faster."

Kaliyev also has produced in the playoffs. He had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 21 games to help Hamilton win the OHL title and reach the Memorial Cup last season. He'll have an even bigger role this season as Hamilton tries for a second straight league championship.

Helping Kaliyev this season has been playing on a line with Matthew Strome, selected by the Philadelphia Flyers established career-high totals in goals, assists and points this season alongside linemate Matthew Strome, a fourth-round pick (No. 106) of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 NHL Draft.

"The way he can generate a play out of nothing amazes me," Strome said. "His shot is the best I've ever seen in person. He can score from all over the ice. He's like the Alex Ovechkin or Patrik Laine of the OHL. His playmaking ability has shined this year. When everybody thinks he's going to take a booming one-timer, he finesses a pass and nine times out of 10, it's right on the tape for a tap-in goal."

Kaliyev said he's excited about the chance of becoming the first Hamilton player selected since the franchise moved from Belleville in 2015-16.

"He won't intimidate any defender or put defenders on their heels but knows to get the puck to someone who will transport it and then get open," Stewart said. "His game is below the dots and in the offensive zone and he plays in all three zones very well."

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