Our seventh annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings and the staff rankings to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 2, 2019, when the 2019-20 NHL season begins.
Sheldon Rempal started his first full season with the Ontario Reign on a blazing start by scoring eight points in his first four games. That start contributed to a brief callup to the Kings for three games, starting on October 18, 2018. Upon his return to Ontario, he continued right where he left off by collecting 12 points in nine games, earning him AHL Rookie of the Month honors for November. He was called up to the big club for a second stint, starting with the November 27 game. However, this stint lasted only four games, and Rempal was sent back down to Ontario for good after that. He went pointless for Los Angeles in seven total games.
He maintained enough consistency in the points department to earn a spot representing the Reign on the Pacific Division All-Stars team in the AHL All-Star Classic. Along with finishing with 40 points in 59 games (4th on the team), Sheldon Rempal’s first full professional season was a solid one. Despite such a solid rookie season, there were a couple glaring concerns for it. First off, he had the worst +/- among forwards with a -28. Secondly, Rempal failed to record a point in his last 10 games for the Reign. Perhaps he hit a rookie wall towards the end. His game log also indicated that he spent much less time playing alongside two of the top three Reign scorers, Matt Moulson and Brett Sutter, as he had been earlier in the season. Still, Sheldon Rempal showed enough promise for the Kings to re-sign him to a 1-year contract for $874,125 last month.
Having only signed through the 2019-2020 season, his play and drive have to be like a battering ram to a front door at a police raid. A strong training camp can land him on the big club on opening night, but he will more likely be among the first to be called up from Ontario. With his lack of size (5’10”, 165 lbs.) Rempal’s speed, stickhandling, and tenacity can provide the Kings’ answer to the new NHL’s speed game. Perhaps new coach Todd McLellan can place systems and schemes that increase Rempal’s chances to shine. If he can improve on his -28 rating while maintaining (and possibly improving on) his scoring touch, he will increase his chances for sticking in the league, let alone with the Kings.
Here’s an example from an October 13, 2018 Reign game, where Rempal shows off his stickhandling and speed in the shootout:
Rempal’s two goals against the San Jose Barracuda (in an 8-4 win on March 1, 2019) also show off his good hands. The goals come at the 2:50 and 5:03 marks in the below video:
Despite the Kings forgettable past season, roster spots throughout the lineup are really in contention. The top six forward spots almost seem set for the upcoming season by established veterans on big contracts. Some other more highly touted young players (including Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Adrian Kempe, and Carl Grundstrom) may demonstrate a stronger push to claim a top six spot. As for the third or fourth line, some incumbent veterans (Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford), along with a few likely moving down will provide stiff battles for those six spots, as they vie against multiple prospects and young players perceived to be at least similar in talent level to Rempal, if not, higher on the depth chart.
As mentioned, Sheldon Rempal must really distinguish himself to remain in the league, let alone the Kings. Even a few players drafted from this past June’s NHL draft rank higher. Hence, an outstanding season for him will make it really tough on the front office with those prospects looking to turn pro after next season (trade Rempal as a rental for a higher round draft pick, re-sign him, or let him sign a lucrative deal with another team after the season ends). Only time will tell if Sheldon Rempal rams down that door.
While the writers generally placed Rempal at the back of the pack — recognizing his potential as a player but not quite sold on his spot in the organization — the reader voting was more scattered, with a handful of top 10 votes. Time will tell if Rempal lives up to their expectations.