In recent years, Los Angeles Kings forward Arthur Kaliyev has emerged as one of the NHL’s most intriguing prospects, showcasing a blend of incredible strengths and glaring weaknesses. His remarkable shot and high hockey IQ have been the highlights of his game, but his skating and defensive abilities have lagged behind. However, recent developments suggest that Kaliyev is on the path to rectifying these issues, and the Los Angeles Kings are reaping the benefits.
- Kaliyev’s early promise was hindered by a broken foot injury, which tested his resilience.
- Physical improvements and increased mental agility are evident in his gameplay.
- Kaliyev’s partnership with Phil Danault and Trevor Moore has significantly bolstered the Kings’ offensive capabilities.
Last season, Kaliyev’s progress seemed to be derailed by a devastating broken foot injury, his first major setback in his career. Recovering from such an injury was a grueling process, but Kaliyev’s determination prevailed. He has since regained his physical prowess and appears in better shape than ever before, demonstrating improved speed and conditioning.
“After the injury, and it’s not his fault, (Kaliyev) had a (foot) injury that really didn’t allow him to train anything in the lower body,” said Todd McLellan. “Then we asked him to come back and be fast and have a good engine and it didn’t work that well.”
“It was awful because I couldn’t do anything with my feet for months,” said Kaliyev. “Obviously, coming back wasn’t easy, the team was rolling and I wasn’t playing as many minutes. So, it was hard to get back to game strength, I never really got back to my normal self.”
However, the most notable transformation in Kaliyev’s game extends beyond the physical realm. His mental acuity on the ice has seen a substantial uptick. Playing alongside Phil Danault and Trevor Moore, Kaliyev has abandoned his tendency to chase the play, displaying more composure and a heightened understanding of the game.
Notably, Phil Danault has joined the chorus of admirers, echoing the praise initially voiced by coach McLellan. The focus on physical improvements over the summer has undoubtedly paid dividends, and these improvements are not just theoretical. The Kaliyev-Danault-Moore line has been a revelation for the Kings, leading the team in even-strength goals, Fenwick For, and posting solid Corsi and expected goals numbers.
“He’s working harder, that’s for sure, he’s got a little better habits, he definitely brings more to the game than he has in the last few years, that’s for sure,” said Danault. “You could tell right away when he came to camp, his body, physically, big improvements. He’s been good for our line.”
In terms of individual performance, Kaliyev has amassed one goal and two assists in just four games while maintaining a plus-two rating. While Kaliyev’s potential has never been in question, concerns about his ability to keep up with the NHL’s pace have persisted. However, his recent performances suggest that he is more than capable of thriving in the league.
“We’ve always thought the ceiling would be, quite high with this individual,” said McLellan when asked what Kaliyev’s ceiling could be given his recent improvements. “He’s proven in the past that he has a lethal shot, that he knows where to shoot it, all that type of stuff. He had to get used to better quality of opposition and do some training things. But we’ve always thought the ceiling was high for him. I don’t want to box him into numbers, or lines, or minutes or stats, we would like to keep him where he is at right now with steady progression. Make sure the curve is going up and not down. I think if he just keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be fine.”
Assuming Kaliyev can maintain his current level of play consistently, the Los Angeles Kings have a potential 30-goal scorer on their hands, which could solidify their position as contenders and offer another high-end forward for their top nine. Arthur Kaliyev’s resurgence is a testament to his resilience and dedication, offering a bright outlook for the Kings’ future.