With the Los Angeles Kings 2019-2020 regular season schedule announced and their home opener against the Nashville Predators set for Oct. 12 (Tickets), it's time to take a look at who will be hitting the ice.
After a less than stellar 2018-2019 season, the Los Angeles Kings have had some time to restructure their gameplan and retool their roster to enter the seasons with a vengeance. Along with a batch of refresh players, the Kings' have also welcomed a new coach, Todd McLellan, who has previously worked with Edmonton, San Jose, and Detroit.
The two-time Stanley Cup winners will once again be lead by team captain Anze Kopitar and other veteran skaters, including; Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, and Alec Martinez. Some new blood on the ice will come with the addition of center Mario Kempe, defenceman Joakim Ryan, right-winger Martin Frk. Some of the team's most notable in-coming rookie talent include the Tobias Bjornfot, Jordan Spence, and Samuel Fagemo.
Here's a deeper look at some of the new players joining the LA King's Roster for the 2019-2020 season:
Hailing from Kramfors, Sweden, Mario Kempe is probably the most flexible addition to the Los Angeles Kings playing at the center position. After spending two years with the Arizona Coyotes, Kempe notched a total of 13 points and seven assists. Kempe's activity and on-ice effectiveness leaped from a +/– of –1 to +5. Kempe also stepped up his defensive intensity from his rookie year where he notched a total of 11 blocks to 30 in his second year of play with the Coyotes. Now, the 30-year-old is looking to make an impact on his new team this upcoming 2019-20 season.
In 2012, the San Jose Sharks selected defenceman Joakim Ryan in the seventh round of the NHL Entry Draft. In the past two seasons with the Sharks, Ryan showed promise blocking a total of 138 shots. His productivity fell during the 2017-18 season where he blocked a total of 98 shots. During the 2018-19 season, he saw a decline in on-ice time and blocked a total of 39 shots. But with time on his side and his elite maneuverability on-ice, Ryan has a promising career and immense possibility with the Los Angeles Kings.
The chipped-tooth, 25-year-old right-winger, Martin Frk holds the crown of a very peculiar NHL record as the first player to have a jersey with a name without a vowel it in. In 2012, Frk was drafted 49th overall by the Detriot Red Wings and later claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes where he made his stateside professional debut in 2016. The following year, Frk made his way back to the Red Wings where he played his first full NHL season recording 11 goals and 14 assists in 68 games. That year Frk received the Red Wings/Detroit Sports Media 2018 Rookie of the Year Award but has seen his numbers dip since then. Now, Frk has signed a one-year two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings and is looking to become a contributing member of a developing hockey club that could be looking to make a deep run into the NHL Playoffs.
Another LA Kings newcomer to keep an eye out for is rookie defenceman, Tobias Björnfot. Selected 22nd overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Björnfot is looking to become an instant force for the Kings after signing a three-year rookie contract with the team. The 18-year-old from Upplands Väsby, Sweden began his professional ice hockey career playing for the Stockholm, Sweden-based Djurgårdens IF hockey club where he scored a total of 44 points and racked up 27 assists in just two seasons, catching the eyes of many scouts stateside.
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, 19-year-old Samuel Fagemo stands at 6' and was a dominant force in Sweden, earning three medals for his homeland. Brute force and aggression allow him to make his way into scoring position throughout his professional career as he's racked up 32 goals with Swedish hockey clubs Frölunda HC and Södertälje SK since arriving on the scene in 2016. Fagemo was drafted 50th overall in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the LA Kings.
The 18-year-old Jordan Spence has a hockey IQ shockingly impressive for his age that the Kings could not afford to pass up. The defenceman was named 2019 QMJHL Rookie of the Year and was also awarded with QMJHL All-Rookie Team and awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season of play. In a single season with the Moncton Wildcats, Spence racked up a total of 43 assists and 49 points. Though he may be young, he's deserving an opportunity to prove himself on the highest caliber of professional hockey with the LA Kings.