Rasmus Kupari signs three-year ELC - LA Kings Insider

Joshua Lavallee/Icon Sportswire

Rasmus Kupari has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the LA Kings, the team announced Friday. Chosen 20th overall at the 2018 NHL Draft last month, Kupari has one more season remaining on his contract with with defending SM-Liiga champion Kärpät in the northern Finland town of Oulu, where he totaled six goals and 14 points in 39 games as an 17-year-old playing in a top European league.

A world juniors veteran by his draft day, Kupari will also be eligible to represent Finland at the 2019 and 2020 World Junior Championships. He was held scoreless in five games in 2018 but scored twice in four games during Finland’s U-18 championship run, picking up a goal and an assist in the final.

Kupari’s skill set greatly appeals to the Kings amidst their ongoing efforts to draft, develop and cultivate speed and skill. “As a player, we always knew he was a first round talent,” Head European Scout Christian Ruuttu said. “He’s got the speed, he’s got the skill, he’s playing with men in the pro league. We’ve seen him a lot, and we knew what the new game is going towards. Rasmus is part of that game – the speed, the skill and the playmaking, all that. What he really does have, he’s got a good shot on the fly.”

Kupari’s defensive game improved his draft season as he received more time at center and used the opportunity to gain the trust of the coaching staff. His skill set isn’t entirely different from Adrian Kempe. Both are versatile forwards (and it’s not quite cemented whether either permanently projects as a center or a wing), both have speed to burn, both can shoot off the rush.

Getting him in a practice jersey and watching him at Toyota Sports Center for the first time, Kings management took notice of his speed and ability to play with pace during development camp. He was adept at getting to elite speed quickly and knowing when to use it, as learned through discussions with hockey operations.

Drafted as a European skater, there are no restrictions on when Kupari would be eligible to begin a season in a North America pro league. Though his rights were claimed by OHL-Sault Ste. Marie in the CHL Import Draft last year, he’s not likely to leave a professional league in his home country to play major junior hockey. Again, the most likely bet, based on draft and development camp discussion, is that the team will continue to gauge his development and revisit the greater plan as his upcoming Liiga campaign plays out.

Kupari is the first skater from the team’s 2018 draft class to sign an entry-level contract. From the 2017 draft, Gabriel Vilardi (first round), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (second) and Matt Villalta (third) have signed contracts, while Mikey Anderson (fourth), Markus Phillips (fourth), Cole Hults (fifth) and Drake Rymsha (fifth) have not.

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-Lead photo via Joshua Lavallee/Icon Sportswire

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.