Insiders, some news about the game day!
The NHL announced today that striker Adrian Kempe has been selected for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas, marking the first career selection for the 25-year-old winger.
In just 36 games played this season, Kempe has already tied his NHL career high with 16 goals, leading his team in the process as one of just two Kings with double-digit goals this season (Alex Iafallo – 10). His 16 goals are good for a Top-20 ranking in the NHL as of this writing (T-17), as he continues to produce both quality opportunities and goals at the most consistent pace of his career to date. More about Kempe’s impressive season HERE.
Kempe has skated in line with Anze Kopitar for a long distance for the first time in his NHL career. He has had top-line options before, but has not cemented his place in the way he has so far this season, something Kopitar has noticed.
“I think he’s a lot more comfortable,” Kopitar said today about Kempe. “Of course self-confidence is a big factor, but I just feel like he’s a lot more comfortable in the place he’s right now. He’s playing really well, of course, but I think the biggest thing for him is that we everyone has seen it here, but now he keeps it consistent, which is huge.
Head coach Todd McLellan spoke at length about the changes in Kempe so far this season, and his growth as a player since McLellan took over as head coach in 2019.
Todd McLellan on Kempe
I think Adrian is a man now. People will see him and say he was a man 3, 4 years ago, he had a man’s body, but he has a man’s mind now. He gets the game, he knows how to get through a game, he understands situations, he has experienced highs and lows enough, he has broken through barriers as a young, developing player. He has climbed the ladder, he has hit almost every step now, and he has broken through all those steps. He is such a valuable player for us and there is a good lesson there, about not giving up on individuals because we kept him out three years ago. We were trying to figure out if he was a center-back or a left-winger. The organization and he stuck to it and look at him now. As for the on-ice stuff, he is confident, he uses his legs to get to places without the puck, allowing him to be in multiple scoring situations, and then he can really use his legs well with the puck. He has combined both, which has gotten better, and I think his shots have gotten better.
In addition, defender Drew Doughty has been named the NHL’s “Last Men In” poll. Send Drew to Vegas at NHL.com/LastMenIn.
Brock N ‘Roll
In addition, King’s prospect Brock Faber has been selected to represent the United States at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The list was officially announced today, with Faber being one of several NCAA players selected to represent their nation at the upcoming tournament.
A nice reward for Faber, who saw his last chance at the World Juniors taken away due to COVID complications in Alberta at the end of last month. Faber now gets the chance to play for a bigger medal with Team USA at senior level, where the men’s tournament is set to begin on February 10th. The United States will play host nation Team China in the first match, while Faber and the Americans will also face Canada and Germany in the group stage before advancing to either the playoff round or the quarter-final round, where a single elimination format begins.
Congratulations to Brock on an exciting opportunity!
Former King Nick Shore and former Kings prospect Brian O’Neill were also named to the team. Both players currently play professionally in the KHL.
Finally, the Insiders, LA Kings have recalled defender Jacob Moverare from the taxi squad, as well as strikers Samuel Fagemo and Jaret Anderson-Dolan from AHL-Ontario ahead of tonight’s match. All three people are eligible to dress tonight.
Anderson-Dolan has skated in two NHL games so far this season, while Moverare made his NHL debut last week against Nashville. Fagemo took the warm-up with the Kings on Monday, but has yet to make his NHL debut. Anderson-Dolan is in third place in Reign with 19 points this season, while Fagemo, who has scored in three consecutive matches, is number two in goal after only Martin Frk.
Game Thread is coming next time, Insiders!