Birthdate: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, Sweden
Weight: 201 lbs
Draft: 1st round, 29th overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft
Kempe signed a four-year deal with an annual average value (AAV) of $5,500,000 after a breakout 2021-2022 season that saw him score a career-high 35 goals. While it was a breakout year for Kempe, some questioned if he could replicate his career season, while others still had concerns over his streaky play. Those questions and concerns were put to rest as Kempe posted a career-high in goals (41), assists (26), and points (67) in year one of his new contract.
Kempe became the first Kings player to score 40 goals in a season since Luc Robitaille accomplished that feat in the 1993-1994 season. His second hat trick of the season, which came in the season finale against Anaheim, helped him reach the 40-goal mark. In addition to replicating his scoring abilities, Kempe improved his defensive game drastically, becoming a trusted 200-foot player in head coach Todd McClellan’s system.
THE JUICE JUST KEEPS FLOWING pic.twitter.com/TK3mfu2yY9
— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 12, 2023
— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 14, 2023
Year one of Kempe’s contract was a huge success and he will look to do the same in year two. He’s expected to reunite with Anze Kopitar and Quinton Byfield on LA’s top line and play another huge role on the top power-play unit. If Kempe can continue to improve his defensive play, that will be huge as he can be a player McLellan can trust in late games. With back-to-back 30-plus goal seasons, there is no longer hope if and when Kempe can break out and be that goal-scorer the organization hopes he can be, the expectation is for him to continue being that 30-goal-scorer he is.
Featured image credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill