Kempe signs for three years, six million - LA Kings Insider

Adrian Kempe, who had been close to contract terms with the club for much of the latter half of the off-season, signed a three-year, $6-million contract with the LA Kings nine days before the first on-ice training camp session. Kempe, who turns 23 next week and was selected 29th overall in 2014, has recorded 71 points (30-41=71) in 187 career NHL games and is coming off an 81-game, 12-goal, 28-point campaign as well as another productive international spell at the IIHF World Championship.

John Russell/NHLI

Kempe’s signing brings all 2019 restricted free agents under contract.

Kempe’s production was muted by the team-wide malaise early in the season, and with one goal and two points through the first 16 games, his start was particularly grueling. His best play took place late in the season, particularly out of the bye week, which he used as a springboard towards seven goals and 15 points in the team’s final 32 games. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s providing competitive and usually responsible hockey, and most players his age don’t show the same aptitude or willingness towards backchecking – though there are still areas to improve on in the defensive zone and in coverage.

With a +4.7% CF%Rel, Kempe posted some of the most encouraging possession rates on the team, and he did so against mostly even competition and almost-level zone skews. With a .9815 PDO, a promising possession rate and positive expected goal differentials on a poor team, and depressed on-ice and personal shooting rates, the advanced stats provide a cursory glance of a young player who could be poised for a modest breakthrough amidst the right surroundings.

He could receive those, given that he’ll enter training camp with a spitting chance at the second line center role. It was the same role he thrived in during the first half of 2017-18, but the second line was an offensive drain for Los Angeles a season ago, leading to questions about Jeff Carter and Kempe’s slots and roles. Both can play center or wing, and Todd McLellan’s teams in San Jose thrived with versatile center/wing tandems up front that led to a remarkably consistent run at the faceoff dot. (Kempe isn’t close to that yet, and through two full seasons has posted raw 38.5% and 42.6% faceoff rates.)

The chatter and speculation as to whether Kempe could ultimately move to wing has come from outside the organization. In the past, management, his coaches and Adrian himself have all stated their preference that he remain down the center of the ice.

“I’ve played center for almost two seasons now straight, so I think that’s the position I want to play in, that they want me to play,” he said shortly after the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. “There are still a lot of things to work on on my game, and I’m excited to get better on both faceoffs and my overall game in both zones as well. There’s a lot to improve, but I’d say center is the position I want to play.”

Using the template I shared when Michael Amadio, Matt Roy and Daniel Brickley signed in July (based on CapFriendly’s financials), the team is now up to roughly $74.7M in commitments to 23 players. Injuries and unexpected performances take shape during training camp, so it’s nearly impossible to concretely project the opening night roster, but Blake acknowledged on Friday that waivers would play a factor on how the initial roster is constructed. With that said, the group below is simply one of many plausible roster scenarios and aligns with the expectation as reported by LAKI that the team would operate with a cushion below salary cap ceiling this season. (I’d originally reported a target of $77-79 million; it looks like they’ll check in lower than that.)

Forwards (14 / $44,009,671): Kopitar, Kovalchuk, Brown, Carter, Toffoli, Iafallo, Kempe, Lewis, Clifford, Grundstrom, Wagner, Luff, Prokhorkin, Amadio
Defense (7 / $20,470,000): Doughty, Martinez, Forbort*, LaDue, Walker, MacDermid, Roy
Goalies (2 / $6,475,000): Quick, Campbell
Mike Richards Cap Recapture: $1,320,000; expires after 2019-20
Mike Richards termination: $250,000; expires after 2031-32 – details here
Dion Phaneuf Buyout: $2,187,000; fluid, expires after 2022-23 – details here
Total: $74,711,171
2019-20 Salary Cap: $81,500,000

Again, waivers will play a role in the initial roster construction, and given Derek Forbort’s back injury*, there will be even more young competition among the blue line during training camp. In any event, this is not a salary cap team this year, nor will they shift gears and recalibrate that based off early success, as was intimated by Blake at the State of the Franchise forum.

Via the LA Kings:

LOS ANGELES – The LA Kings have signed restricted free agent forward Adrian Kempe to a three-year contract extension, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today. His contract carries an AAV of $2 million.

The 22-year-old Kempe (born Sept. 13, 1996) appeared in 81 games last season with the Kings, where he posted 28 points (12-16=28) and 50 penalty minutes. It marked the second consecutive season that the forward played in 81 games. During the 2018-19 season, he posted a career-long point streak (five games) and a career-high TOI (20:29).

Selected by the Kings in the first-round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, the Kramfors, Sweden native has appeared in 187 regular-season games for the Kings, posting 71 points (30-41=71) and 105 penalty minutes. Earlier this summer, his brother Mario Kempe was signed by the Kings. They are just the third set of brothers to play in the Kings organization, and should they appear in a game together, would be just the second set that overlapped and played together. Jan and Roman Vopat played together, while Brayden and Luke Schenn played for the Kings at different points in their career.

LA Kings Season Ticket Memberships for the 2019-20 season are on sale now with three membership levels: Full Season, Half Season, and Quarter Season. Deposits are also being accepted for Groups of 15 or more and Private Event Suite rentals, and deposit holders will receive exclusive pre-sale windows before the general public. Individual tickets for the 2019-20 season will be on sale to the general public on August 1 with Season Ticket Member and eNews subscriber pre-sales in advance of this date. Select Mini-Plans and Ticket Packs will also go on sale prior to the public on sale of August 1. Call 1.888.KINGS.LA or visit for more information.

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Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

–Lead photo via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
–Advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick, Corsica

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.