The Los Angeles Kings finished off their off-season transactions re-signing restricted free agent Adrian Kempe. The news was announced on Wednesday, as the club inked a 3 year, $6 million deal with the 23-year-old Swedish National.
The Kings selected Kempe in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft and rose through the ranks to make into the NHL roster.
In 187 games with the Kings, Kempe has scored 30 goals, 41 assists, and 71 points. However, during the 2018-19 campaign, Kempe struggled with his consistency. The Swede recorded nine fewer points than the year before and had 50 penalty minutes, which was the most among the top-six forwards.
At the end of the season, Kempe scored one goal over his last 13 games and recorded three points total over that same period.
Now that the Kings have Kempe back in the fold Kempe’s production will need to go up to justify the signing, at just 23 years old Kempe should be hitting his prime but other than a few glimpses his talent Kempe has not justified his 1st round status.
“It’s up to him,” Kings President Luc Robitaille said on Kempe’s improvement this coming season.
“He’s played a certain role with our organization, with our team. This year, he senses that he has a little bit more of an offensive role he’s going to have to fulfill. That’s going to really give him a chance to probably create and get more chances.”
Kempe Contract Details
At an average annual value (AAV) of $2 million for the length of his contract, Kempe could be a bargain if his offensive game picks up.
However, the deal also works in the Kings’ favor as it gives them enough flexibility that if there is no improvement in Kempe or the team’s fortunes he can be offloaded for an asset.
New Kings coach Todd McLellan coached the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers and helped improve offensive production under his tutelage.
The front office has faith that McLellan’s coaching can help a player like Kempe improve offensively.
But for now, it is up Kempe to reward the Kings faith.