Ontario Reign: GM Rich Seeley shares thoughts on Kaliyev, Byfield

Ontario Reign (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ontario Reign (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

LA Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev had an outstanding first season with the Ontario Reign of the AHL.

The LA Kings drafted Arthur Kaliyev in the second round of the 2019 NHL entry draft with the number 33 overall pick. It was a stroke of luck for the Kings. With his goal-scoring prowess in the Ontario Hockey League, Kaliyev was projected to be a first-round pick.

After lighting up the OHL for 44 goals and 54 assists during the 2019-20 season, the Kings were faced with a tough decision regarding where Kaliyev would play this season. The Staten Island, NY native, is only nineteen years old, and because of AHL eligibility rules, he would have either had to have played this season with the LA Kings or go back to his team in the OHL, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Hockey League was forced to delay and ultimately cancel its current season. While no one ever wants to see any hockey season get canceled, it worked out for both Kaliyev and fellow LA Kings prospect Quinton Byfield (who is only 18 years old), as they were eligible to play in the American Hockey League for the Ontario Reign.

Kaliyev applauded for his defensive improvements. light. Related Story

It was almost universally agreed that neither one was ready for a full-time role in the NHL, but Reign General Manager Rich Seeley noted in his exit interview on Wednesday why playing in the AHL was so good for Kaliyev and Byfield.

“I thought our organization really benefited from having Kaliyev and Byfield with us in the American League,” Seeley admitted. “I think it was personally exactly where a good spot for them to develop and continue to play. And it challenged them, both of them.

“I’m looking at those particular two players [Kaliyev and Byfield] and thinking that this stuff they learned here they wouldn’t have been able to learn in the OHL. No offense to it, but just the caliber of hockey.”

The Ontario Reign had a very young team this season, and it showed early on, as the team lost ten of its first eleven games. Slowly but surely, however, Coach John Wroblewski’s team began to turn things around, and by halfway through the season, they were firing on all cylinders.

Kaliyev would end the season leading the Reign with 14 goals and 17 assists in 40 games played. One of the knocks against Kaliyev coming into this season was that he was not a strong defensive player at all.

He worked on this deficiency in his game, and at the season’s end, he wound up being a +4  – all while playing more games than the teammates ahead of him in this category. By leading his team in goals and assists while improving his defensive game, Arthur Kaliyev was truly the MVP of the 2021 Ontario Regin.

Next. TSN says Byfield is a non-starter in Jack Eichel trade. dark

Kaliyev will be twenty years old when next season starts, so it looks like his days in junior hockey are over. Will the “Arty Party” be coming to Los Angeles or Ontario next season? We’ll find out in October.