Scouting the AHL’s Pacific Division: Adrian Kempe + 4

Scouting Report – Adrian Kempe

Bio
Team:  Ontario Reign (AHL)                           Draft Status: 29th overall, 2014 (Los Angeles)
Position: LW
To Date Stats: 21GP, 7G, 9A, 16P 10 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-1, 187lbs

Characteristics
Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Kempe already has NHL level skating. He is explosive, and utilizes a very long and powerful stride to get up to top speed quickly. It is a very low effort stride ala current King Jeff Carter. He can absolutely fly and it barely looks like he is trying. Due to his smaller frame he is also tight on edging and balance, but is not easily removed from the puck in open ice. Very controlled and explosive skater all around. Grade: 70

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Very rarely does Kempe utilize a slap shot. He more often attempts snap and wrist shots, both of which have good power and decent accuracy. Very sharp release, and does not have much of a back swing on his snapper. This helps with the overall deception of his shot. Has proven capable of beating AHL goaltenders with semi-regularity thus far. Good ability to get off backhands in tight as well. Grade: 55

Puck Skills
Plays a fairly low-flash game skill wise. Will make safe plays over high-risk, high-skill plays. Good stick handler in traffic but can have a little bit of trouble possessing the puck along the halfwall with defenders bearing down on him. Has soft hands, as displayed by his ability to cradle and shoot in tight. Clean, safe, and modest skill game overall. Grade: 55

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Excellent overall feel and awareness to the game. Kempe understands his role quite well in the defensive system of Ontario head coach Stothers. He does not take risks offensively that could hurt him defensively. Strong tendency to make himself available to D and center for outlet passes as well. Less of a visionary player with the puck, but moreso a creative player off the puck in finding seams between defending players. Shifty and smart in the offensive zone, but will still drive the net when needed. Can be difficult for defending players to keep track of. Grade: 55

Physicality
Very little physicality to his game. While he is listed at 6’1”, he is noticeably small. Very European feel in his approach. Opts to play more of a skill game over a physical game. Will finish checks, drive to the net, and battle in the corner, but this is still a developing aspect of his game. Can tend to get moved off the puck in corner battles and plays more on the perimeter at times than in the home plate area of the offensive zone. Looks to dominate with speed over physical presence. He will need to put on some muscle moving forward. Grade: 45

General Assessment
Kempe is a noticeable player at the AHL level already, with a lot of very likable skills that should translate to the NHL. His skating is a plus asset that if moved to the Kings NHL team tomorrow would be amongst the best on the roster. Most of his deficiencies, mainly in the physical aspect of the game, come from lack of physical maturity and familiarity with a tighter checking North American game. He has adjusted very well thus far, and there is no reason to believe he should not be, at the least, an NHL Top 9 forward in the future. His speed, shooting, and cognitive play make him a valuable asset in the Kings system. Once he physically develops we should see a more feisty and dominant winger in the dirty areas. He has had few issues adjusting to a defensive heavy system, which is a great sign for a defense heavy Kings team. He remains their most promising prospect.

Overall Future Projection: 57.75

 

Scouting Report – Oliver Kylington

Bio
Team: Stockton Heat (AHL)                           Draft Status: 60th overall, 2015 (Calgary)
Position: D
To Date Stats: 21GP, 4G, 3A, 7P 6PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-0, 185lbs

Characteristics
Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Kylington has exceptional mobility. He is an aggressive, agile, and technically sound skater. His smaller frame allows him to pivot and corner well, and he has good top end speed on and off the puck. He is not afraid to utilize that speed in end to end rushes. Short strides, allows for powerful bursts and acceleration. Skating is easily one of the biggest assets of his game and is already on a developing elite level. Smooth, powerful, and agile. Grade: 70

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Possesses a good shot, but opts more often to pass than shoot. Tendency on vision and passing over pure point shots. That being said, has an average wrist and slapshot. Slapper does not have much power behind it but he puts it in good areas. Grade: 50

Puck Skills
Smooth puck handler and a great first pass. Sharp outlets are evident in his game. Can operate in tight spaces well when either carrying the puck or moving the puck up ice. Has confidence in his carry ability and can maneuver through traffic fairly well. Keeps his head up at all times and always seems to be comfortable with the puck on his stick. Touch of flash to his game as well when it comes to stick handling in tight spaces. Grade: 55

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Outstanding. Plays a high risk, aggressive game, but does so with a calculated measurement. Rarely puts his team or D partner over a barrel to carry the puck up ice or pinch in the offensive zone. Great poise on the puck and reads the game in both zones at a very high level. Can quarterback a powerplay with confidence with his smart and creative puck movement. One-on-one skills defensively, like gap control, are average but developing. Grade: 65

Physicality
The one noticeable deficiency in his game. Kylington is 6-foot with a very trim frame. This helps his overall mobility but makes him a distinctly small player. While he does not play particularly small, his engagement with bigger forwards in front of the net can lead to difficulties. Has a good stick which can work him out of trouble in front-net battles, but struggles winning the pure physical battles in that regard. No lack of effort in engaging nevertheless.  Grade: 45

General Assessment
What Oliver Kylington lacks in size he almost certainly makes up for it in the cognitive aspect of the game. He is a smart, aggressive, and mobile two-way defenseman. He takes his risks at the right times which makes him deeper than a simple offensive-minded defenseman. He is a modern NHL coach’s dream in that regard. Great hockey sense with a bevy of skills and excellent skating to go along with it. His skating alone sets him apart from other defensemen trying to break into the league. The physical aspect may be the one hitch in his game, and he may be punished more frequently for risks taken at the next level, but there is a lot to like with him as an all-situations defenseman. There is top 4 NHL potential here with a powerplay quarterbacking asset as well.

Overall Future Projection: 59

 

Scouting Report – Justin Auger

Bio
Team:  Ontario Reign (AHL)               Draft Status: 103rd overall, 2013 (Los Angeles)
Position: W
To Date Stats: 24GP, 6G, 7A, 13P, 20PIM
Shoots: R
Height/Weight: 6-7, 230lbs

Characteristics
Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
For a big player his skating is admirable but not exceptional. Long stride allows for pretty decent speed, but overall the acceleration and agility is nothing more than average at best. Suffers from a bit of a big man skating syndrome, where he can look uncomfortable cornering and getting up to speed at times. Nevertheless, a decent top end speed with other aspects that likely will not punish him overall. Grade: 45

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Not a pure shooter by any stretch of the imagination. Most of Auger’s play comes from the greasy areas, which severely limits the amount of looks he gets in an area to display shooting skills. Rarely utilizes slapshot, almost always opts for wristers and backhands in tight. That being said, he operates well in tight spaces and can elevate pucks on the backhand or forehand down low. Grade: 40

Puck Skills
Almost no skills above average to speak of. Passing, shooting, and stick handling are almost all average to slightly below average. Is not averse to carrying and handling the puck in space, but often defers to other plays or plays a very simple north-south, “Pucks to net”, style game. Simple is not always bad, but do not look for his puck skills to wow you at all. Grade: 40

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
A very low-flash, but wise hockey player. Good penalty killer, solid in his own end. He is difficult to beat in his own end due to positioning and an exceptionally long reach. Gap control is overall very solid for a winger. Makes safe and smart plays that a coach will love. From an offensive standpoint he knows his role. He fishes pucks out for more skilled forwards, and makes himself a nuisance in front. Grade: 60

Physicality
He is and will continue to be a handful for defenders to deal with at all levels. His naturally gifted size is something he has learned to use more and more over the years. He is incredibly strong along the boards and can be a pain to move out from in front of the net. Always willing to bang bodies and put in work in the dirty areas. What he lacks in skill he makes up for in blue collar work. Grade: 65

General Assessment
Auger is a case of a player with a limited technical skill set, but a great mind for the game and a physical advantage that other players dream of. In this regard, he seems to know his limitations, and plays a very simple and straight forward game that works to his advantage. He is very good in his defensive zone, and offensively he is either driving the net or placing himself in front of it in order to be a distraction to defenders. This North-South approach is very appealing to NHL coaches, and Auger looks like he has the tools to be a potential 4th line player or defensive specialist in the NHL.

Overall Future Projection: 46.75

 

Scouting Report – Mirco Mueller

Bio
Team:  San Jose Barracuda (AHL)                Draft Status: 18th overall, 2013 (San Jose)
Position: D
To Date Stats: 12GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, 6PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-3, 210

Characteristics
Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Mueller is as smooth as can be when it comes to skating. Very visually pleasing skating style, with strong pivots, agility, overall speed, and mobility. When he does attempt to join the attack he is a good enough skater to recover without punishment. Grade: 60

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Puts good pucks on net from the point. Usually looks to throw wrist shots at net versus booming slap shots. More of a finesse shooter that looks for tip plays from forwards rather than actually attempting to score. Picks his times right and it leads to his shots generally finding the target. Power and placement are both good, with the latter being slightly higher. Grade: 55

Puck Skills
When he does make outlets they are generally very strong. Needs to be more confident in his passing ability, as it often comes second to simple clearance plays. Could really push the team forward in transition but will sometimes withhold. Has noticeable presence on the puck and can stickhandle well. Grade: 55

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Very high panic threshold on the puck. Noticeable calm and collectedness about his game when he holds the puck. Strong defensive zone awareness. He has some questionable offensive instincts, though. Can sometimes make iffy decisions with the puck in getting out of his zone. Will opt for “Board and out” plays when a pass out is available. Likewise will dump pucks when a carry or pass is available. Overall it hurts his effectiveness in the transition game and cedes possession. Lot of potential given skills, but still developing confidence and decision making. Grade: 45

Physicality
No physicality to speak of for a player of his size. Will establish position in front and fight with opposing forwards, but would be hard pressed to win a one-on-one battle with a physically demanding forward. Can be moved from the puck by forecheckers which can lead to some dicey puck management. Grade: 40

General Assessment
Mueller has the tools to be a solid overall two-way defenseman. However, the issue does not seem to be with his skill, but with how he utilizes that skill. He has a noticeable calm and presence with the puck, but can often get caught taking too much time and not making the right decisions overall. There is little offensive risk taken despite his exceptional mobility, and there is also little risk taken in outlets despite good puck movement. Be it confidence or awareness, Mueller currently lacks a certain something in his approach to the game. He has a lot of likable tools, but needs a killer instinct in various aspects of his game as of right now.

Overall Future Projection: 50.25

 

Scouting Report – Nic Kerdiles

Bio
Team:  San Diego Gulls (AHL)           Draft Status: 36th overall in 2012 (Anaheim)
Position: C
To Date Stats: 27GP, 7G, 2A, 9P, 39PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-2, 191lbs

Characteristics
Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Not an explosive skater, but a decent first step and good technically. Lacks top end speed but is deceptively fast when he does get up to speed. He primarily relies on positioning to make up for acceleration and speed deficiencies. Technically he is very smooth with an easy stride and good edging and cornering. Average skater all things considered. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Has a wild and inconsistent shot. Can sometimes shoot when passing would be more beneficial. Has good power behind his wrister and it can be troublesome when on net. Generally opts to go with the wrist shot over the slapshot, but will also take slapshots when given time and space. Also suffers from a bit of touch and go accuracy on the slapper. Grade: 50

Puck Skills
Not much on the skill side from Kerdiles. He is a blue collar player for the most part with very low flash to his game. Puck handling is rarely put to the test as he often moves the puck before having to handle in tight quarters. Primarily looks to move the puck before carrying. Nothing outstanding, but has the necessary skills to operate in all three zones. Grade: 50

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
The overall highlight of Kerdiles game at the pro level has been his intelligence. He shows flashes of a very good shutdown center with good first unit penalty killing ability. Never pushes himself too far up the ice, manages the center lane well, and makes himself available to defensemen for outlets regularly. Good overall awareness of his position on the ice as well as others. Grade: 55

Physicality
Not afraid to battle, finish checks, or engage with players physically. Has good size and puts himself in very good positions all over the ice regardless of difficulty or punishment taken. Drives the net, gets to the dirty areas, and willing to muck it up. Grade: 55

General Assessment
Kerdiles was a high-scoring USNTDP and NCAA player, however his offensive skills have gone to the back burner since turning pro. He has, on the other hand, utilized his hockey sense in a way that makes him a pretty competent shutdown center. Positional awareness has become a big asset to his game despite it perhaps taking away some of his more previously held offensive tendencies. At this point he looks like a good bet for a 3 or 4C job in the NHL.

Overall Future Projection: 50.5

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