Although the Los Angeles sports market is one of the country’s largest, Kempe only gets an opportunity to play in front of a national audience if the Kings visit the east coast. Unfortunately, that lack of exposure leaves many fans to believe that some of the best Swedish players are on top contending teams in the Eastern Conference, overlooking a guy who is having his best season in the NHL.
Originally a first-round draft pick (29th overall) in 2004, Kempe took his time developing, staying in Sweden, and putting the work in at the AHL level before turning into a mainstay in the Kings’ lineup for the 2017-18 season.
Despite the slow starts and low goal totals that defined the first few years of his career, Kempe found a new gear in 2021-22, surpassing the 20 and 30 goal plateaus and collecting a career-best 54 points with a minus-2 rating, the lowest in three campaigns.
After finishing each season as a minus player, he worked on his game and currently leads the team in the category with a plus-22, significantly raising his career totals from minus-32 to minus-10. Although he has yet to erase all the negative numbers off his resume, he’s changed his career trajectory with outstanding numbers, 112 points, over the last 153 games.
As the NHL regular season winds down, Kempe ranks in the top five in several significant statistical categories among Kings and Swedish-born players, including goals, plus/minus, even strength goals, powerplay goals, shorthanded goals, shorthanded points, and game-winning goals.
Additionally, he’s in the top 10 in points, penalty minutes, even strength points, overtime goals, shots, and shooting percentage.
Although the Kings’ offensive attack runs with contributions from various players like Anze Kopitar, Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, and Gabriel Vilardi, Kempe is undoubtedly one of the centerpieces of any game plan coach Todd McLellan draws up.