Adrian Kempe enters the 2014 NHL draft as one of the best defensive forwards available, due to his high hockey IQ, and his ability to put forth an honest effort in all three zones.
At 6'2", 187 lbs, Kempe not only possesses the size that makes most NHL scouts drool, but he compliments it with good skating and a decent shot. Although it must be said that Kempe does struggle at times to produce consistent scoring chances, meaning that he shouldn't be expected to blossom into a play maker or a goal scorer.
However, we should note that Kempe performed quite admirably at the U18-WJC, putting up a point-per-game, which was good enough for third on the gold medal winning squad.
When reviewing his stats, it's important to keep in mind that Kempe played in the SHL, the top tier hockey league in Sweden.
"Love his game." NHL Scout
"A smart player but he lacks top six skill." NHL Scout
"I just love watching him play and just got to see him again in Finland. He’s the same reliable player I grew to
respect last season.
I can tell you this, Team Canada brass noticed him. To me Kempe projects to be a trusted player that some
NHL Coach will rely on in key situations because he does all the little things coaches preach."
– Mark Edwards
Despite ranking Kempe a little later in the first round compared to most scouting services, McKeen's definitely recognizes his top notch defensive ability, placing him 5th in the entire draft class in terms of defensive prowess.
Limited offensive abilities taken into account, they still project him to be a solid depth player.
Hockey Prospect: 21
McKeen's Hockey: 26
Craig Button: 10
Average Ranking: 21. Average ranking without the Button outlier: 24.
Despite not necessarily being a sexy pick, Kempe projects to be an incredibly safe late round pick. In fact, I'd be shocked if he's still on the board when the Habs take the podium.
He possesses all the qualities that scouts look for, and coaches adore. His work ethic is through the roof, his reliability of a general manager's dream, and his elevated hockey IQ should ensure he eventually makes his way to the NHL.
Should the Habs pick him? It depends on what they're looking for. If they want a high scoring left winger, Kempe is clearly not the right choice, yet I suspect that both Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin wouldn't hesitate to pick Kempe in the first round. He oozes character.
Odds are he'll never evolve into a top 6 player, however there's a good chance that he'll develop into one of the better bottom 6 players in the league.
The main problem in this particular situation, is that there is very little chance that Kempe is available by the time Montreal picks.