Mike Donnelly, a former King and a part of the team’s development staff in addition to serving as Collegiate Scout-Western, outlined the purpose of this week’s development camp for many of the club’s youngest prospects.
“What we’re looking for is just to try and start teaching them good practice habits, work ethic, and introduce them to some of the things that we believe are important for our young players to start practicing,” he said.
Though those habits have been enhanced over the last week, they appear to already have been embedded in the play of the club’s 2014 first round draft pick, Adrian Kempe.
Kempe, who split time between Modo Hockey’s U-18 and U-20 teams amidst posting 11 points (5-6=11) as a 17-year-old with the senior club, is someone who possesses many of the qualities that the Kings covet. He has skill, goes to the net, is responsible in all 200 feet of the ice and appears to be eminently coachable.
“He has a lot of skill. I like his length. There’s a lot to like in him. He’s working hard,” Donnelly said. “From what I’ve seen in two days, he’s an excellent student. He’s listening. He’s applying the things we’re teaching.”
Acknowledging that the experience playing against older players in the Swedish Hockey League helped him greatly, Kempe now has his sights on eventually joining the Kings – though he’s under contract with Modo and will return to Sweden for the upcoming season.
“That was the dream I’ve had since I was a little kid, to make it to the NHL,” he said. “Hopefully I will take my play to the next level.”
Ther’s already a good indication that his style of play will jibe with Los Angeles’ efforts.
“They play real fast hockey, a really physical game and everything, so that’s what I’ll try to do too,” Kempe said.
“I think the small rink and the North American play fits me pretty good. I’m a big, strong player.”
It’s his second time visiting Los Angeles after having taken part in a CAA camp two summers ago. There’s a little bit of a different pace at this year’s camp, where fundamental aspects are reinforced in addition to teaching the young prospects how to become professionals, as Donnelly noted.
“I think it went pretty good,” Kempe said. “The first on-ice practice was a little bit hard. I hadn’t been on the ice for a couple weeks, so it was pretty hard, both to skate and do things. But once you get into it now, like this and the last on-ice practice we had, [it gets better].”
“It was pretty different. A smaller rink, you don’t have so much time with the puck as you have maybe at the big rinks back in Sweden, so that’s a big difference.”
He’s also getting an inclination towards how the team hopes he’ll fit within the organization.
“I think they picked me because I fit good with the team, and I play like their team does,” he said. “I need to improve a lot of things if I want to play in the NHL in the future.”
PREVIOUSLY: Introducing Adrian Kempe