Wrapping up the weeklong dev camp, LA Kings prospect Rasmus Kupari noted he would welcome a transition to the wing if it meant playing in the NHL.
In his second full season with the Ontario Reign last year, LA Kings 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Kupari was leading the AHL club with two goals and nine points through the first eight games. The 21-year-old earned a well-deserved cup of coffee at the NHL level in early March, playing in three games before returning to the Reign.
Kupari was the Kings’ last callup of the shortened 2021 season, playing in seven total games. He potted his first career goal on May 8 against the Colorado Avalanche. While other Kings prospects were limited to six games without starting the clock on their three-year entry-level contract, Kupari was no longer slide eligible.
So regardless of where he spends the 2021-22 season, he’ll burn the second year of his ELC. And while he’s primarily played center throughout his career, Kupari could be one of several centermen converted to the wing.
Following the final day of Kings dev camp on Friday, the Finnish forward spoke with the media.
On how he feels about his game after a full year with the Reign and a few games with the Kings last year
I’m feeling good. Good summer back in Finland. Yeah, obviously last year was huge for me, full year with the Reign [and] a couple of games with the Kings, so I look forward to next season.
On whether he had any difficulty fitting things he’s learned into a setting for newcomers
No, I think it was good. Good camp, get to know new guys, [and] work on some things you need to learn as a forward. Stolly [Jarret Stoll] and all the dev staff have done a great job with us. It’s been a good week.
On whether his more determined style of play in the scrimmage was something intentional
I’ve tried to think about it a little more, try to drive to the net [and] be a little more direct with my game – give-and-goes and that type of game. So I think that’s one thing I try to really work on and use my speed.
On what he would like to show from his skill set coming into this season
Yeah, I hope to use my strengths, my speed, maybe try to shoot a little more, [and] be more direct. But also, I want to show my skills. [In] some situations, you can show what you’re able to do, dangles and that stuff, but yeah, work hard every day.
Thoughts on potentially being moved to the wing, given the organizational depth down the middle
That’s not a problem for me. Like, I can play as a wing too. Obviously, center, I’ve been most of my career. But if you’re a center, you have to be ready to play as a wing. And I’m looking forward to that if that’s the spot for me.
On whether he feels the group of talent collected is ready to make an impact this year
We have lots of young guys, but [the Kings] added a couple older guys as well. It’s just good. And yeah, [I] look forward to it camp, [and I’m] ready to battle for a spot and the starting roster.
On what parts of his game have improved the most and what he would like to work on
I would say obviously, the game is a little different here in North America, a smaller rink. So, like I said, last year was huge. I tried to work on being more direct with the puck, drive to the net, all these kinds of stuff. Back in Europe when I played, there’s more space, more time with the puck. Yeah, and maybe [I’d like to be] a little more physical.