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Looking to make the leap: Adrian Kempe

New York Rangers v Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25: Adrian Kempe #39 of the Los Angeles Kings skates after the play during the game against the New York Rangers at Staples Center on March 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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This post is part of Kings Day on PHT...

Part of the challenge facing the Los Angeles Kings right now is that they’re light on noteworthy prospects, but there’s still some young players to watch within their system.

One of them is Adrian Kempe, who made his NHL debut last season and could be a full-time player with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017-18. While he can serve as a winger, there’s a potential opening on the Kings for a third-line center and Kempe might slot into that position. That wouldn’t be a bad role for him as he’s capable defensively.

The bigger question with Kempe is what he might bring to the table offensively. He made a great first impression within the Kings’ organization when he scored eight goals in 17 playoff games with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs in 2014, but since then his offensive numbers have been underwhelming. He had 12 goals and 20 points in 46 AHL contests last season as well as two goals and six points in 25 games with the Kings.

He’s still just 20-years-old though (he’ll turn 21 in September), so he has time to grow offensively. It helps that he has size and speed among his advantages. He’s got a high hockey IQ too, which was on display when he scored his first NHL goal.

He needs to show that he can play at that level consistently though and whether or not he can do that will determine his future value to the team. Maybe he can become a top-six forward, but perhaps he’ll end up in more of a supporting role.

He also needs to improve on the draw if his future is as a center. He only won 43.8% of his 153 faceoffs with the Kings last season, so that was an obvious negative.

It’ll be interesting to see how that all plays out in 2017-18 and beyond. Especially given their currently underwhelming farm system (albeit improved with the selection of Gabriel Vilardi with the 11th pick this year), it would go a long way towards securing the Kings’ future if Kempe’s flashes of greatness manifested into him becoming a more reliable player.