Insiders, some game day news!
The NHL announced today that forward Adrian Kempe has been selected to the 2022 NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas, marking the first career selection for the 25-year-old winger.
In just 36 games played this season, Kempe has already tied his NHL career high with 16 goals, leading his team in the process as one of just two Kings with double-digit goals this season (Alex Iafallo – 10). His 16 goals are good for a Top-20 ranking in the NHL as of this writing (T-17), as he continues to produce both quality opportunities and goals at the most consistent rate of his career to date. More on Kempe’s impressive season HERE.
Kempe has skated on a line with Anze Kopitar for an extended stretch for the first time in his NHL career. He’s had top-line opportunities before but hasn’t cemented his place the way that he has so far this season, something Kopitar has taken notice of.
“I think he’s a lot more comfortable,” Kopitar said today, of Kempe. “Definitely confidence is a huge factor, but I just feel like he’s a lot more comfortable in the spot that he is right now. He’s playing really well, obviously, but I think the biggest thing for him is that we’ve all seen spurts of this, but now he’s keeping it consistent, which is huge.
Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke at length about the changes in Kempe so far this season, and his growth as a player since McLellan took over as Head Coach in 2019.
Todd McLellan on Kempe
I think that Adrian is a man now. People are going to watch him and say he was a man 3, 4 years ago, he had a man’s body, but he has a man’s mind now. He gets the game, he knows how to manage his way through a game, he understands situations, he’s experienced highs and lows enough, he’s broke through barriers as a young, developmental player. He has climbed the ladder, he’s hit almost every rung now and he’s broken through all those rungs. He’s such a valuable player to us and there’s a good lesson there, of not giving up on individuals because three years ago, we were sitting him out. We were trying to figure out if he was a center-ice man or a left winger. The organization and he stuck with it and look at him now. As far as the on-ice stuff goes, he’s confident, he’s using his legs to get to places without the puck, which allows him to be in more scoring situations and then he can really use his legs well with the puck. He’s combined both, which has improved, and I think his shot’s improved.
Additionally, defenseman Drew Doughty has been named to the NHL’s “Last Men In” Vote. Send Drew to Vegas at NHL.com/LastMenIn.
Brock N’ Roll
Additonally, Kings prospect Brock Faber has been selected to represent the United States at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The roster was announced today officially, with Faber one of several NCAA players selected to represent their nation at the upcoming tournament.
A nice reward for Faber, who saw his final chance at the World Juniors taken away due to COVID complications in Alberta late last month. Faber will now get the chance to play for a bigger medal with Team USA at the senior level, with the men’s tournament set to begin on February 10. The US plays the host nation, Team China in game one, while Faber and the Americans will also face Canada and Germany in the group stage, before advancing to either the playoff round or quarterfinal round, where a single-elimination format commences.
Congrats to Brock on an exciting opportunity!
Former King Nick Shore and former Kings prospect Brian O’Neill were also named to the team. Both players are currently playing professionally in the KHL.
Lastly, Insiders, the LA Kings have recalled defenseman Jacob Moverare from the taxi squad, as well as forwards Samuel Fagemo and Jaret Anderson-Dolan from AHL-Ontario in advance of tonight’s game. All three individuals are eligible to dress tonight.
Anderson-Dolan has skated in two NHL games so far this season, while Moverare made his NHL debut last week against Nashville. Fagemo took warmups with the Kings on Monday but has yet to make his NHL debut. Anderson-Dolan ranks third on the Reign with 19 points this season, while Fagemo, who has scored in three consecutive games, ranks second in goals behind only Martin Frk.
Game Thread is coming up next, Insiders!