Adrian Kempe had quite the 2014-15 season. After finishing his second full season in the SHL with MoDo, the then 18-year-old Swedish winger came over to the Manchester Monarchs just in time for the end of the regular season. It ended with the team winning the Calder Cup and Kempe scoring eight playoff goals.
He also enjoyed a good World Junior Championship with Sweden, scoring four goals and adding six assists for 10 points in six games.
The Monarchs have now relocated to Southern California as the Monarchs became the Los Angeles Kings ECHL-affiliate and the Ontario Reign becoming the AHL-affiliate. Over a dozen players that were part of the cup-winning Monarchs side are now in Ontario, which is about 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
Kempe, 19, will now play his first full AHL season and the Kramfors native is positive about the new season.
The champs??? pic.twitter.com/g8lQjK6RU8
— Adrian Kempe (@adriankempe) October 7, 2015
“It felt good, I felt energized,” Kempe said after the Reign’s 5-0 victory in their opening game of the AHL season against the Bakersfield Condors.
“It was a great team effort, and I think we played a really good game throughout. It wasn’t nervous at all, like it can be when you play the first game, but it wasn’t and we played a really good game.”
Kempe played on a line with Kris Newbury and Sean Backman. The line created all kinds of problems for the Condors. Kempe picked up an assist on the opening goal scored by Vincent LoVerde and Newbury finished the night with two goals and an assist.
The Reign has 15 players returning from last season when they as the Manchester Monarchs won the Calder Cup after defeating the Utica Comets 4-1 in games to lift the trophy. Kempe said that he feels like it gives them an edge.
“We have a lot of veteran guys that knows what it takes,” Kempe said. “I was lucky to be on the team at the end of last season and win a championship. So having a lot of guys come back is just positive.”
The Reign did lose several key players from last season, as playoff MVP Jordan Weal is with the Kings, and regular season MVP Brian O’Neill was traded to the New Jersey Devils. This leaves room Kempe and some of the other young players to step up.
Teammate and former roommate Paul Bissonnette is expecting big things from the young Swede.
“He’s a great young kid,” Bissonnette said. “He’s going to be a great player and I think it benefits the organization that he comes down here and fully develops and eventually get to the next level.”
Kempe said he felt good during main camp with the Kings and that he will continue to try and develop and eventually get a shot in the NHL.
“I’m working on my whole game, but I want to get better in the defensive zone,” Kempe said. “I’ve taken steps already so I just have to keep working.”
As the team is now in close proximity with the big club, the bosses should have an even easier time to take a look at some of the Reign prospects. And Kempe certainly doesn’t mind switching New Hampshire for sunny California.
“Manchester was very nice in its own way,” Kempe said. “Ontario is really nice town, so I’m really enjoying it, just moved into our new apartment. I live with [Jonny] Brodzinski and [Valentin] Zykov. I like the warm weather and it’s warm all year round here.”
Kempe showed glimpses during the game against the Condors why he’s so highly rated within the organization. He has great awareness on the ice, a great shot and a lot of speed combined with decent size. Depending on how things go up in the NHL with the Kings with injuries and so on, we might see the young Swede play a game or two in the big league before the season is over.