LA Kings: Get ready for Rasmus Kupari’s NHL debut

LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Called up to the LA Kings taxi squad on Thursday, head coach Todd McLellan said there’s a real chance Rasmus Kupari makes his debut soon.

Kings fans were teased last week when Rasmus Kupari was called up to the taxi squad. The 20-year-old skated with the LA Kings roster but never saw any live game action. That may soon change, according to head coach Todd McLellan.

“We had him here for a week on the taxi squad, and he didn’t get to play,” McLellan explained. So that didn’t do us any good. [It was] just something we needed to do in case we needed bodies, but if he’s with us now, he’ll play.”

Prior to his first callup, Kupari led the AHL with eight points through the first seven games. Plugged back into the Ontario Reign’s lineup in Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime loss, the former first-round pick in 2018 tallied his second goal of the AHL season.

With an inconsistent bottom-six forward group right now, the LA Kings hope Kupari can provide the same impact Jaret Anderson-Dolan had when he was inserted into the lineup. JAD will miss the weekend series against the Blues, and with Michael Amadio continuing to struggle, now seems like the perfect time for Kupari to make his NHL debut.

Of course, the Kotka, Finland’s road to today was never linear. He tore his ACL in the 2020 World Juniors and greatly benefited from the delayed start to the season.

“The comparison between now and last year is significant,” McLellan said of Kupari’s development. “This year, he looks like he spread his shoulders out a little bit here and held his head high. And he’s telling everybody that he belongs at the top end of the American League and breaking his way into the National League.”

As noted, Kupari figures to plug in along the bottom-six forwards, potentially playing alongside Adrian Kempe and Matt Luff.

“Yeah, I mean, obviously, he’s been playing really well in Ontario, and [he’s] highly skilled player,” Kempe said when asked to scout Kupari. “[He’s a] good skater, [has] good hands, and everything like that. You can see that he’s adjusted more to the game, and you know, you can see that he wants to get better every day. He is gonna be excited to be in the part of his first game as well. And I’m excited to see him play out there because he has a lot of skill, and he can play for sure.”

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We asked for a change, and we’re getting one. Let’s hope Kupari can help the Kings sustain more offensive chances rather than falling behind three goals. Get ready for the Rasmus Kupari show, folks.