After taking a month off from the last time we checked in on the Kings' top prospects with the Manchester Monarchs and Adrian Kempe, I thought I'd try to get back to a regular schedule.
Wednesday was "Adrian" day in Sweden. According to Wikipedia,
"The Swedish Name day has developed to a big celebration for a person with a Swedish name. This "tradition" is something that is nowadays seen as a Swedish tradition. Presents, big parties and singing is all related to the celebration of the nameday."
So the day after scoring the eventual game winning goal for his team, Kempe had basically a second birthday.
Tack för alla gratulationer på min NAMNSDAG!— Adrian Kempe (@adriankempe) March 4, 2015
(The link did say Adrian last week but since it's a week later, it's changed).
This child is super adorable and I can't wait until he comes to the U.S. full time.
Kempe only played two games this week as his team finished out the remainder of their season (they only play 55 games in the SEL). They won the penultimate game in which Kempe scored but dropped a 2-1 decision on the final game of the season. They have an incredibly young team and a new coach (the old one was fired shortly after the World Junior Championships wrapped up) so maybe they'll be be better next year.
Despite his season being over, don't expect Kempe to come stateside any time soon. As has been mentioned numerous times, the Kings are very happy with his progress and are unconcerned about rushing him. He'll probably come over in the summer for development camp then be sent back to Sweden before NHL training camp opens.
Kempe ended the season with a career high 17 points, adding five assists from last year in three additional games with nearly double the ice time (he averaged 8:25 last year as opposed to 17:07 this year). Remember, Kempe made his professional debut in the Swedish Elite League shortly after his 17th birthday so these are pretty decent numbers for an 18 year old, even if he didn't improve his goals scored as much as you might expect. All in all, not a bad year for the young Swede.
|37||Nick Shore (X)||C||38||20||22||42||23||16||7||3||101||19.8|
|14||David Van der Gulik**||LW||46||11||11||22||12||35||1||2||84||13.1|
|15||Paul Bissonnette (total)||LW||40||0||3||3||-8||61||0||0||27||0|
X No longer on active roster
* Prospect on AHL only contract
** Not a prospect
An interesting phenomenon is happening with the Monarchs right now. They can't score for beans with Bartosak in net and have lost 55% of the games he's started while they've lost only ~28% of the games Berube has started.
It might be unfair to compare percentage of games won/lost since clearly Berube is the starter, but it's still very interesting what's happening in Manchester.
Jordan Weal still rules. On Friday, he had one of his best efforts of the season picking up four points (2-2-4) and basically just dominated the game from start to finish. He's fourth in the league in scoring, though he has played the most of the top scorers and has the most PIM.
Colin Miller still leads his team defense in scoring and is third overall in the AHL. With one more point, he'll tie second place and six points would put him first overall in the league, though that seems unlikely.
Since it was a 3-in-3 weekend for the Monarchs, I'll just give a brief recap for each day and embed the highlights under each date.
Friday, March 6
Manchester got off to a great start when Weal intercepted a bad pass from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Taylor Chorney and beat former Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Zach O'Brien set up Brian O'Neill for a 2-0 lead and after the WBS Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) made it 2-1, Colin Miller responded with a hard slapshot top shelf on the power play to make it 3-1.
Vincent LoVerde got on the board in the second period with a power play goal of his own, a nice wrist shot from the slot that would eventually stand up as the game winner. Late in the period, Chorney redeemed himself for his ugly mistake with a power play slapshot that Berube probably should've had. With 21 seconds remaining in the period, Andrew Bodnarchuk's shot deflected off Justin Auger and in to extend Manchester's lead back to three goals.
Early in the third period, the Penguins scored to make things interesting. But Weal wasn't about to let the Pens' comeback gain any more steam as he dangled his way around a defender for a gorgeous highlight reel goal.
Wow. Just... Wow.
Saturday, March 7
The Penguins came out on top on the rematch to avoid the season sweep. WBS Pens goalie Matt Murray stood on his head, denying the Monarchs of any goals and setting a personal shutout record.
As good as Jordan Weal's and the Monarchs' team effort was on Friday, it was quite the opposite on Saturday afternoon as they were a bit lackluster and Weal was a defensive mess.
So first the Kings' AHL affiliate gets shutout then the Kings themselves get shutout by the same organization. It was that kind of a day/night.
Sunday, March 8
Manchester wrapped up the weekend taking four out of a possible six points to stay atop the league standings. While Weal was red hot on Friday, on Sunday, Mersch took a turn being the best Monarch on the ice against the Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers).
Berube allowed a bit of a soft goal in the first, putting his game in an early 1-0 hole. Around the halfway point of the first, Bodnarchuk evened the game, scoring off a great feed from Mersch.
It was a bit of a back-and-forth game with the Monarchs taking their first lead in the second period only to surrender the equalizer shortly after a long 5-on-3 power play ended. It didn't take long for Manchester to regain their lead, though, thanks to Backman who was having a strong game.
Justin Auger found a rebound at the side of the net two put his team up by two, though it ended up being the eventual game winning goal. However, the Wolf Pack got one back on the power play as the puck seemed to just squeak through Berube.
Zach O'Brien iced the game with a shorthanded empty net goal with 22.9 seconds to go on a nice give-and-go with Brian O'Neill.
Gravel Impressing During AHL Rookie Season Andy Tonge's feature story on Kevin Gravel who has been compared to a young Rob Scuderi.
AHL: Weal Dazzles Hometown Crowd In Win A more in-depth review, analysis and some quotes from Head Coach Stothers and Weal.
AHL: Monarchs Blanked At Home A better, longer recap and includes a note about Scott Sabourin.
AHL: Mersch Records Three Points In Win Again, a longer recap with more analysis. I just gave the down and dirty highlights from each of the games.