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.
Checking in at number two is Adrian Kempe, along with some good news to boot. The Kings last RFA has inked a new deal and the long-running national nightmare that the Swedish winger could possibly miss parts of the 2019-20 season is now history.
The 22-year old’s production dipped quite a bit last season (28 points versus 37 points in 2017-18). But let’s face it, you have to throw out the last two years’ worth of offensive stats. We all know that the Willie Desjardins offensive game approach was, uh, pathetic and John Stevens couldn’t have coaxed 275 goals out of the team even if they had Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Alex Ovechkin on his top three lines. None of that matters now now that Todd McLellan and his Accountability System has hit town. Look for the forward whisperer to find some reliable linemates for Kempe to mesh with and watch his production soar.
- His flow...although he didn’t make the NHL’s top five for best hair, you can bet with increased production, his stock will rise in this category as well.
- All kidding aside, the ceiling is extremely high for Kempe. Kempe’s pure, raw speed has been touted as a game changer, but often he didn’t have the coaching to convert these opportunities the last two seasons. Coaching could very well be the difference between 28 goals (his combined two season total) and Kempe being a 25-goal-a-year guy. He creates separation like no other King (other than Austin Wagner).
- But going all-in with speed is not his only forte. He’s not afraid to shoot (427 shot attempts the last two years) and his shooting percentage isn’t bad (13.2% in 2017-18 and 10.2% last season)—especially considering his poor support from the coaching staff. He goes to the front of the net with authority and his physical game is growing exponentially.
- Insiders noted his breakthrough performance for Sweden at the 2019 IIHF Championships as further evidence that his best years lie ahead.
Back in game 28, Patrick O’Neal chirped in, sideline-style, reporting that the Kempe Bros.’ father said that if Adrian had Mario’s heart he would be the best player in the NHL. I don’t know how to take that for Adrian. Compliment or no? Obviously not a huge compliment that a father was calling out his son’s heart, but now that Adrian AND Mario are signed to be Kings, count on Adrian to be fully invested with a high compete level. Now if the Kings could just do something about all of those offensive zone and 100-feet-away-from-the puck penalties he commits...
More like this, please...
Kovalchuk to Kempe sounds lovely...
Player of the Month:
KEMPE’S FINAL THOUGHTS ON LAST SEASON
And now...a look at the staff and fan voting...