2015 Top 25 Under 25, #6: Adrian Kempe
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|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Draft Year/Position||Current League||2014 Rank|
|6|| Adrian Kempe ||9/13/1996||SWE||2014/29th overall (1st) ||AHL ||10|
Adrian Kempe is one the safer non-NHLers on this list. His size, physicality, and responsibility with the puck make it quite likely that he'll be at the very least a respectable member of LA's bottom six one day. The big question is whether his offensive game will blossom enough to make him a viable top six option, as Tanner Pearson's has.
Lots of scouts have praised Kempe's hard shot, and although his reputation is that of a north-south player with good fundamentals, his offensive game has some flash, too:
On the other hand, Kempe's Swedish Elite League numbers are something less than eye-popping. His second SEL season saw his ice time nearly double (from 8:24 TOI/game to 15:14), but his offensive production did not take off. His 17 points in 50 games was only a modest improvement over the 11 points in 45 games he put up in his draft year. Allowances need to be made for Kempe's age (he just turned 19 this month) and the poor quality of his team (MODO finished last in the SEL and barely avoided relegation), but the Kings were probably hoping for a bigger jump in scoring.
Historically, the very best Swedish forward prospects have scored at a rate about two to three times higher than Kempe's .34 points per game in their 18-year-old SEL seasons (Kevin Fiala and Kempe's MODO teammate William Nylander both did that this year). So I wouldn't project Kempe as a future top-line NHL scorer at this point. Obviously, it's eminently possible for him to become a valuable NHL contributor in other capacities.
We did get two glimpses of Kempe outside of the SEL last year. He played six games on Sweden's top line at the World Juniors, managing eight points (including four power play goals). At the end of the year he came to North America and played a key role in Manchester's Calder Cup run with eight goals in 20 games. Those are two promising tournaments, and it's especially impressive that Kempe acclimated so well to the AHL despite having to adjust quickly to a new team on a new continent. In each case I think the sample sizes are too small to read much into the scoring numbers, but please do enjoy some of his highlights.
We'll have a much better idea of Kempe's scoring potential after his 2015-16 season, which will probably be entirely in Ontario, though it's possible that Kempe gets an NHL call-up if he impresses and injuries hit the Kings. Look for Kempe to play a major role at the World Juniors again, too.