Arthur Kaliyev made his NHL debut for the Kings back in February, scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks in his lone game with Los Angeles last season.
Kaliyev will face the Ducks for a second time in his young career on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, having become an even more valuable member of the Kings in the past 10 months.
Kaliyev, the 33rd overall pick in the 2019 draft, has four goals and two assists in 19 games with Los Angeles this season.
The 20-year-old scored his fourth goal in a 4-2 win against the visiting Ottawa Senators on Saturday, helping the Kings end a five-game losing streak (0-3-2).
“You can see him maturing,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We really appreciate all the little things that Arty is doing right now. When you compare him in his one game last year against Anaheim to his 15-20 games that he’s played this year, it’s significantly different.”
Kaliyev isn’t just flashing his scoring touch, but the left winger is playing solid defense and staying physical throughout his shifts.
“We’re trying to train him for the full 20 minutes that he could eventually end up playing,” McLellan said. “He’s getting it.”
Kings defenseman Sean Durzi is off to a good start in his NHL career as well.
Durzi, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, produced a goal and an assist in his NHL debut on Wednesday in a 6-2 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, then added another assist in his second game on Saturday against the Senators.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of poise with the puck,” McLellan said. “He can hold it and look people off, and that’s a real asset for him as long as it doesn’t become a liability, and he’ll learn what he can get away with and what he can’t.”
The Ducks are loaded with young talent as well.
Trevor Zegras, the ninth overall pick in 2019, has four goals and five assists in his past seven games. Zegras is a 20-year-old center.
Troy Terry, 24, recently had a 16-game point streak.
The Ducks are still in learning mode, however, and that was evident in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Maple Leafs on Sunday. Anaheim slipped to 1-4-0 in its past five games.
“I think we learned lessons on details of the game, lessons (Toronto) has already gone through the past few years,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “That’s an elite scoring team. You cannot turn the puck over. You can’t, not even once, because if you do, it may cost you. It cost us twice.”
Eakins is confident the Ducks have the fitness, skating ability and toughness to stay with any team throughout a game, but they need to remain mentally locked in for all 60 minutes to have consistent success.
“Where the difference was (against Toronto) was the mental level of being just focused on the details and the game plan,” Eakins said. “It’s a 5-1 game, but for the most part, it was an even game. Where it changes quickly is those details. Against elite teams like that, you have to be very careful and very focused.”