It’s pretty incredible to think of what Arthur Kaliyev has already accomplished in his OHL career. The 2019 draft prospect currently sits sixth in league scoring with 42 goals and 83 points in 53 games, despite playing for a Hamilton Bulldogs squad that is starting to rebuild after last year’s championship title.
“Artie’s got a skill that, for me, is as unique as I’ve ever seen,” said coach Dave Matsos. “He’s 17 years old…he’s young. He’s got the heart and the approach of a 15-year-old, which is kinda cool. Artie’s ceiling is so high. When this guy matures physically and mentally – the guy just continues to score, that’s what he does.”
Born in Uzbekistan, Kaliyev moved to Staten Island, NY, when he was two years old. He grew up in the borough and lived there until he was 13, when the family moved to Michigan to further Arthur’s hockey career.
“It was a much higher level,” Kaliyev said. “It was a higher compete level and I got a lot better there, giving me a better chance of making the OHL.”
Now he spends his off-season in Florida, where his younger sister is an elite tennis player. Kaliyev’s father owns a shipping business and mostly lives back overseas, while mom holds down the fort in America. And while Kaliyev would definitely be a standout for Uzbekistan’s national team (spoiler alert: they don’t actually have an IIHF team), the gifted goal-scorer has put in his lot with Team USA, representing the Stars and Stripes at the Five Nations tourney and the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament.
The young right winger played for both Little Caesar’s and Compuware in Michigan before heading to Hamilton, where he happened to be a rookie during the Bulldogs’ run to the OHL title. That squad featured a murderer’s row of forwards headlined by Robert Thomas, Brandon Saigeon and Nicholas Caamano and even with a ton of older players ahead of him after the trade deadline, Kaliyev still potted 31 goals as a freshman.
“It was a great experience playing with top guys who play pro now,” Kaliyev said. “It was really nice to learn from them. This year there is much more responsibility and I try to be leader on the team.”
With Thomas, Saigeon and Caamano all gone (not to mention MacKenzie Entwistle, Marian Studenic and Ryan Moore), the Bulldogs aren’t leading the pack any longer, though they should still make the playoffs given their current pace. Kaliyev is playing on a pretty nice top line with center Jan Jenik (ARI) and left winger Matthew Strome (PHI), giving Hamilton a potent threat up top. But unlocking the rest of the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Kaliyev’s potential is the current mission.
“His 60-foot game in the ‘O’ zone is amazing,” Matsos said. “We’re trying to get him to play that 60-foot game in the neutral zone and that 60-foot game in the ‘D’ zone and he’s responding. And it’s not affecting his stats. He’s starting to get into bodies, he’s starting to block shots, he’s starting to get on the penalty kill; he’s doing so many amazing things.”
It’s easy to see the numbers Kaliyev is putting up and project him as an NHLer sooner than later, but with a more rounded-out game, he would be an even deadlier prospect. Hamilton is giving the kid that foundation and Kaliyev is happy to put in the work and effort to get there.
With 14 games remaining in the regular season, Kaliyev could easily hit the 50-goal mark this year. Given how much he has grown as a player already, it’s fair to ask this question: how many could be pot next season in Hamilton?
That’ll be a fun one for Bulldogs fans to keep a tally on.