After running roughshod over the OHL, winning a gold medal at last month’s World Junior Championship, and then getting his feet wet with five AHL exhibition games in January, young forward Arthur Kaliyev is set to make his NHL debut with the Kings later tonight.
Originally selected in the second round at the 2019 NHL Draft, there has been plenty of hype surrounding Kaliyev. He scored 95 goals while posting 200 points over his past 124 OHL games. And his talents were on full display for Team USA at the WJC. He was also highly productive in recent weeks with the Reign. In fact, he might just be the best pure scoring winger in LA’s entire organization, at any level.
Now, the No. 4 ranked LA Kings prospect is set to bring the Arty Party to the NHL.
Following the team’s skate this morning, here’s what Kaliyev had to share:
On the differences he notices between professional and junior hockey
It’s all the best players in the world. I think there’s more speed, more physical than juniors. I think I’ve been able to get more used to it training here last couple weeks with the [Ontario] Reign and Kings teams, so it’s been pretty good for me.
On his excitement level leading up to his NHL debut
Really excited. I’m really pumped to play that game for my first game, it’s gonna be a bit nerve-wrecking, but just I’ll just try to take it one shift at a time and just try my best out there.
On how he counters his adrenaline during games to play within himself
I’m just trying to play hard in all three zones; playing great defense, offensively, neutral zone. Just try to play my best out there.
On if he got a good night’s sleep last night leading up to his NHL debut
I was thinking about it a bit, but I think once I fell asleep it was all fine. It was a pretty good sleep, to be honest with you.
On which veteran player he’s been able to connect with most over the past month
I think there’s been a bunch of guys. A lot of vets like [Anze] Kopitar, [Jeff Carter], Drew [Doughty]. I think all the vets are just trying to help all the young guys out there. They’ve all been nice to me and trying to help me out in every situation possible. I can’t say just one player, they all have been helping me out.
On what he knows about the Freeway Faceoff series and what other players have told him about it
Just play like it’s another game, just try to shine. Don’t be too nervous, don’t do too much. Just try to be my best out there.
On how different it is going to be without fans in attendance
It’s still going to be a great battle. I think guys are getting used to playing with no fans. It’s still gonna be a great battle between the Freeway Series. It’s gonna be a good one, it sucks not to have fans, but I think it’s gonna be a good one.
On who he reached out to first after getting the news that he was making his NHL debut tonight
My parents actually came down here for the weekend because I was seeing them more before camp started. I told them the day before, so they’re really excited. They got here in town just a couple days ago.
On how Strength and Conditioning coach Matt Price has helped him develop
I had a really good summer here trading with Pricer. He helped me build a lot of strength, more speed over the summer training here. I thought it was a really good one.
On how much time he spent in LA this summer and how adjusting after returning from the World Juniors tournament is going
I’ve been here a couple months trying to train my best out here, trying my best on and off the ice. I’m just excited to play some games finally after a long time at World Juniors. I thought that was a perfect tournament before coming here, getting some games in, playing against the best guys from each country in my age group. It’s been a pretty good process and now I’m really excited to make my debut finally, today.
On how the rest of his game outside of his scoring ability has developed this offseason
I’ve been working on it a lot since coming here last season. I’m trying to do a lot of video, trying to work hard in the d-zone, neutral zone, I’m just playing and having good details. I’m trying to be the best 200-foot player out there, not just trying to score. I’m trying to be the best player that I can be right now.
On how old he was when he came to North America and his decision to play in the Ontario Hockey League
I came over when I was like a year old, to New York. Then I played in Michigan for for a couple years before the Ontario League. I thought I was really confident going there, that’s why I knew I was gonna try to go there. I also think that was my best option, going to the Ontario League. I tried to play my best in Ontario and to get drafted. I’ve been on the West Coast since then.
The night before Kaliyev left for the WJC in December, he joined us on Kings Of The Podcast for a fun interview. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out here.
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