May 23, 2022

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Arthur Kaliyev’s goal in debut wasted in Kings’ loss to Ducks

It won’t be the prettiest goal Arthur Kaliyev ever scores, but it’ll definitely be among the most memorable.

Making his NHL debut at 19 on Tuesday night, Kaliyev became the 21st player in Kings history to score in his first game in the league, burying a point-blank rebound in the second period of the team’s 3-1 loss to the Ducks at Staples Center.

Danton Heinen, David Backes and Nicolas Deslauriers (empty net) scored for the Ducks.

For Kaliyev, Tuesday’s game was two years in the making. Though the 6-foot-2 winger’s scoring touch has never been in doubt — he has 248 points (including 126 goals) in 192 junior games in the Ontario Hockey League — he unexpectedly fell to the second round of the 2019 draft, dropping to the Kings at 33rd overall amid questions about his defensive abilities and commitment level.

Since then, Kaliyev has been trying to set the record straight, complementing his tantalizing offensive talents with a more dependable full-ice skill set.

“I’ve been working on it a lot since coming on last season,” Kaliyev said hours before Tuesday’s game. “Trying to do a lot of video. Trying to work hard in the D zone, neutral zone. Having good details. Being able to try to be the best 200-foot player out there, not just trying to score.”

He did score Tuesday, of course, providing the lone offense on a night the Kings — playing without forwards Blake Lizotte and Andreas Athanasiou, and defensemen Matt Roy and Sean Walker — looked disjointed from the start.

Kings right wing Arthur Kaliyev, right, celebrates with center Michael Amadio (10) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Ducks on Tuesday at Staples Center.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“They were better than us in every aspect of the game,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.

Kaliyev was one of the few players McLellan praised Tuesday — “There was nothing that I didn’t like … a good start for him,” McLellan said — showing off his continually improving two-way game.

At the World Junior Championship last month, Kaliyev helped Team USA to a gold medal not only by contributing eight points but also by registering a plus-nine rating on the team’s top line. He scored three goals in five preseason games with the Kings’ minor league Ontario Reign affiliate last week, yet received more praise from Reign coach John Wroblewski on his play away from the puck.

“I’ve liked him on the forecheck,” Wroblewski said. “He’s become increasingly more responsible defensively.”

McLellan echoed that message Tuesday afternoon, highlighting Kaliyev’s development as a distributor as well.

“He’s probably always going to be known for his shot but he does have good vision and nice hands, gets the puck off quick,” McLellan said, adding: “His creativity offensively will be an asset that he’ll always have and will need to take advantage of as the years go on.”

Tuesday was a good start. With his parents already in town on a pre-planned trip when he got the news, Kaliyev said he was feeling anxious yet excited pregame. He even got a good night’s sleep Monday.

“I was thinking about it a bit,” he said, chuckling. “But once I fell asleep it was all fine.”