The Los Angeles Kings have made it a priority to re-sign Adrian Kempe after acquiring Kevin Fiala in a trade last week, general manager Rob Blake said Tuesday.
The 25-year-old forward can become a restricted free agent July 13 after completing a three-year, $6 million contract ($2 million average annual value) he signed Sept. 4, 2019. Kempe had 54 points, including a career-high 35 goals, in 78 games this season, second on the Kings behind center Anze Kopitar (67 points; 19 goals, 48 assists) in 81 games. He led Los Angeles with six points (two goals, four assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when it was eliminated in seven games by the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference First Round.
“One of the priorities for our organization is to get Adrian Kempe signed right away here,” Blake said. “Then we kind of know our situation, if we have to address a couple of needs in free agency.”
Blake said re-signing defenseman Mikey Anderson is also a priority. Anderson had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 57 regular-season games, missing 22 because of an upper-body injury. He had one assist in seven playoff games.
Anderson can also become a restricted free agent July 13.
“You’d like to have them cemented in, so you know exactly where you stand,” Blake said. “We have, obviously, projections on each of them. They are restricted, they’re not able to walk away, so obviously you have time to get deals done. There have been conversations with many of the RFAs and leaning in that direction, but (we’re) trying to kind of pinpoint it so if we have to go into the UFA market for defined needs, we know what we have.”
Fiala, a forward, signed a seven-year, $55.125 million contract ($7.875 AAV) on Thursday, one day after he was acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild for defenseman prospect Brock Faber and a first-round pick (No. 19) in the 2022 NHL Draft. Fiala had a career-high 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 82 regular-season games, and three points (all assists) when Minnesota lost to the St. Louis Blues in six games in the Western Conference First Round.
The Kings (44-27-11) qualified for the playoffs this season, ending a three-year drought. They made two big acquisitions last summer, trading for forward Viktor Arvidson from the Nashville Predators and signing free-agent center Phillip Danault, who was third on the team with 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) in 79 games. Arvidsson was fourth with 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 66 games.
Blake and his staff are in Montreal preparing for the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre. The first round will be Thursday (7 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS), and rounds 2-7 are Friday (11 am ET; NHLN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS). The Kings have five picks remaining after trading their first-round selection to the Wild.
Fiala said he likes the direction the Kings are headed.
“It’s just a great opportunity and a great organization,” Fiala said. “I see the team kind of coming up, you know? Made the playoffs last year, great group of guys I’ve heard, and on the ice, they’re just getting better and better. The future’s bright, I felt like, so I’m very happy with this.”