Adrian Kempe has been something of a riddle to the Kings over the years. He has scored a plethora of big stage goals, and is remarkably athletic for a guy that’s been routinely the youngest player on his various teams. He also hasn’t really developed along a more traditional trajectory.
And now he’s on the Kings’ roster. This happens after the Kings waived Teddy Purcell and Devin Setoguchi, traded Michael Latta, and had an injury befall Jordan Nolan. Also, the only guy capable of scoring this season is Jeff Carter. What I’m saying is it’s dire times for goals in Los Angeles. What a surprise.
All that said, and, well, I’m not really confident in Kempe currently despite having been a pretty big fan of his and he makes me tingly where I pee. I had him poised to likely make the Kings next season, or possibly even the year after that (at the old age of 22), but as mentioned the Kings need goals . Is he a better option than Setoguchi? Truthfully, I don’t really know. That’s why, you know, he’s probably gonna play a few games and then we will see.
What I expect is more likely that the Kings are giving him a “show me” moment. The Kings did this with Jake Muzzin back in 2013 and and he stuck, as did Tyler Toffoli but he didn’t stick fully until 2014. Linden Vey was less fortunate. Tanner Pearson was rushed along a bit too, but ultimately he turned into a integral asset.
Kempe however seems to be a weirder case. He’s still really young, and the team expects huge things from him, but he’s stalled out a bit. Maybe that’s closer to being like Colton Teubert? I don’t really know. In either case, the Kings could very well be showcasing him, trying to find a team that is very high on him. Possibly like Paul LaDue.
If that’s the case, I’ll be sad to see the Kings part with one of their remaining high end prospects. He might be the only high end prospect left in fact, which oddly might make him more likely to be dealt. Los Angeles has really sold the farm, especially with their forwards, so perhaps splurging on a younger proven NHLer (i.e. Gabriel Landeskog) makes more sense rather than wait and gamble with Kempe. With Anze Kopitar, Carter, Pearson, and Toffoli the Kings at least have four out of six spots taken care of moving forward for top lines of offense. Adding a fifth piece makes life a lot easier.
If the Kings prefer on holding onto Kempe, it’s putting a lot of faith in a 20 year old enigma, and there’s not really anything else on the way. Especially given how Dean Lombardi vastly prefers drafting defensemen, and his early draft picking (the more sure fire way to get skilled young players) is pretty suspect. The Kings haven’t even drafted a guy in the first round in something like seven years it seems.
Prediction: I get hate mail for hockey related content and speculation. Kings lose 4-3.