Los Angeles Kings: Adrian Kempe is ready to shine

OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 24: Adrian Kempe
OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 24: Adrian Kempe /

Just like New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge took baseball by storm, Los Angeles Kings rookie Adrian Kempe has been taking the NHL by storm.

They hail from different countries, play different sports and look about as different as two athletes can. But there is something eerily similar between baseball’s 2017 phenom Aaron Judge and the Los Angeles Kings scorching hot Adrian Kempe

Both are first-round picks. Each took longer than expected routes to the big club. Both had remarkably disappointing first peeks on the professional stage. Sure, there were flashes but the overall first impression was underwhelming.

Judge struck out every other at-bat in 25 games. Kempe scored just 2 goals in 25 games. That was then. But now, the two are shining on the biggest stage.

More from Puck Prose

This April Aaron Judge exploded onto the baseball landscape and overnight became the face of the sport. He was destroying baseballs, hitting them harder and further than anyone in the history of the sport. He shattered multiple records for rookies while propelling his team to an unlikely and deep playoff run.

Now, as the calendar has turned to October, Judge has packed up his cleats for the winter, hockey is in full swing and almost simultaneously Kempe, the Swedish-born centerman, has shown that it is time for his coming out party.

The first five games of the season were less than stellar. Kempe was likely adapting to coach John Stevens new systems. On October 18th, the Kings hosted the Montreal Canadiens and Kempe served notice that he was ready to shine. He eclipsed his 2016-17 season in one game with a hat trick, including the game-winner.

As the hats rained down on the Staples Center ice there was a sense that, for Kings fans, this was one of those magical moments when they would be able to look back years from now and say “I was there”.

Must Read: 3 Burning Questions For The Kings

In his last four games, Kempe has five goals, chipped in a couple of assists for good measure and has a +6 plus-minus rating. Oh and let’s not forget the dazzling shootout goal that notched a victory over the Senators in Ottawa. Both overtime and the shootout would not have happened if it wasn’t for Kempe’s superhuman effort and picture-perfect goal to tie the game with less than two minutes in regulation.

After the game, Kempe played down his scorching hot string of games.

"“I’m just trying to play my game and play the way the team plays and I get more confidence after every game. So I mean, that’s good for me and just try to skate as much as possible and try to create opportunities for my linemates and play the way the other guys want to”"

Stevens was considerably more upbeat and effusive.

“He almost had that look like he wanted to be called in the shootout, and you just love that in a player, so good for him.”

Next: Kings At Top Of Week 4 Power Rankings

With Jeff Carter out, Kempe is intent on seizing the moment. He had just been promoted to center a line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. For Kings fans, the thrill of seeing a homegrown player take that next step towards realizing his first-round potential is part of what makes being a hockey fan so much fun.