There was no formal announcement of their assignment to Ontario of the AHL on Monday, but forwards Adrian Kempe and Michael Mersch and defensemen Paul LaDue and Kurtis MacDermid didn’t join the Kings for their practice and there were no longer locker stalls with their names on them in the dressing room.
NHL opening-night rosters must be set by 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Going into Wednesday’s exhibition against the Ducks, it would appear three and possibly four players could be battling for ice time as the Kings’ third- and fourth-line centers. Andy Andreoff, Trevor Lewis and Nick Shore filled those roles last season, but now a fourth name has emerged as a candidate.
Adrian Kempe, a 20-year-old first-round draft pick in 2014, got a chance to play between Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli during the Kings’ 4-3 split-squad exhibition victory Monday over the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.. Kempe didn’t have a goal or an assist, but Pearson and Toffoli had one of each.
Although he’s listed as a left wing (or right wing, depending on the website you search for information), Kempe played center quite a bit last season with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey because of injuries to other players. So, it wasn’t a stretch to see him playing Monday between Pearson and Toffoli. Kempe was credited with two shots on goal, one hit and nine victories in 18 faceoffs in 16:26.
Here’s what Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European scouting, had to say about Swedish forward Adrian Kempe, the Kings’ first-round draft pick: “He’s a big, strong, bullish forward who can play center or wing. He likes to drive hard for the net, using his strength and skating to his advantage. He plays the body and is aggressive when forechecking. He has a good defensive game for a player with his offensive skills; mobile, solid and strong. He’s a power forward, strong along the boards with smooth hands and is a very speed skater. He’s a solid two-way forward.”
The Kings waited and waited and waited some more before selecting left wing Adrian Kempe with the 29th overall pick in the NHL draft Friday in Philadelphia. Kempe won’t attend training camp and it could be several years before he makes the Kings’ roster, but he could be one of the more intriguing first-round picks..