The more I read about Kaliyev the more he reminds me of Nick Ritchie, a big bodied winger with an elite wrist shot which he can get off at such speed that it catches goaltenders completely off-guard.
However, much like Ritchie, the young Uzbekistani-by-way-of-New-York native has knocks on his game related to consistency and compete level. He is the most divisive player in this year’s draft- scouts have him going anywhere from the top ten to the early second round, which suggests he will be more than likely available for the Ducks at ninth, but will Murray feel he is worth the risk?
Position: Left Wing
Team: Hamilton Bulldogs
Weight: 190lb (89kg)
Age: 18 (DOB June 26, 2001 - Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Let’s start with the obvious. 102 points in 62 games. Count em. 51 goals and 51 assists. That’s 1.65 points per game. As a 17 year old he was the first to score 50 goals in the OHL since Alex DeBrincat; he was one of the top scorers, and had the highest goals in the entire CHL this season.
Yet scouts are divided.
Some wonder whether his stellar numbers are more as a result of his line-mates and the majority of his goals the mostly non-spectacular finish to a play. Knocks to his game surround an inconsistency and compete level as well as his skating. He does not jump off the page at you or stand out during a game - other than his shot. He is not a play-driver.
But by the same token, you don’t tally 51 assists by trailing a rush or being in the right place at the right time at an alarmingly lucky rate.
Pronman points out in his in-depth article that Kaliyev has an underrated passing game that makes him a dual threat on the power play, making seam passes and deft touches to set-up team-mates with the man advantage. He labels his hockey sense as one of his best traits, while calling him one of the best passers in the OHL.
Unlike Ritchie - he is not a physical player. He isn’t a penalty killer; he won’t lead a rush either. Again player comparisons vary: some point to Mikael Grigorenko for his size, lack of speed but elite finish, and yet others point to DeBrincat for scoring ability and high hockey smarts.
But he has a bullet of a shot, also much like Ritchie. Additionally, has a few signature moves that despite constant re-use still fool opposing goaltenders. Oh and he doesn’t use much tape on his blade? Weird flex kid.
It is difficult to see exactly where Kaliyev goes and who selects him. As it stands, the Ducks have a real shot of drafting him, but I do not believe Murray will have him high on his list for the first selection. Perhaps if he drops to the later round pick, maybe, but given how important this ninth selection is to Anaheim, I cannot see him taking a risk on Kaliyev with it.