With the 16th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets are pleased to select Adrian Kempe of MODO.
Adrian Kempe has been called "One of the safer picks" by SB Nation's "On the Forecheck." Kempe is a left-shooting power forward. He is listed at 6'2'' and 182 pounds, meaning he has great size for someone born in September of 1996, and is similar in build and skill set to Nino Niederreiter. Elite Prospects describes him as a "bullish forward with size, speed, and a work ethic to match." Kempe is a player who drives hard on the forecheck, gets to the dirty areas, and has great puck handling skills. He also possesses a great wrist shot. The number of different tools in Kempe's arsenal means he is ready to develop into a solid 2-way forward. Furthermore, Kempe has played all across the ice; he is normally listed as a center or left winger, but is seen on the right wing as well
Kempe's precise shooting and great passing can be seen in this clip:
Why is His Jacket Blue?
A big, quick forward with great hands and the flexibility to play all the way across the ice? Nah, we're good on those.
Said no NHL franchise ever. Adrian's skill set and ability to be a 2-way forward with size is exactly what Columbus needs. They have great depth at defenseman, and a good number of skilled forwards, but they are not the biggest team around. They've been making noise, but a physical power forward could even the Jackets out.
Is He Wild?
He just may be. Draft analysts don't know what to make of Mr. Kempe. He is predicted as being drafted anywhere from 9th to 22nd, so there's a decent chance he'll fall to the Wild at 18. On the plus side, Kempe is a pretty safe choice, and is very likely to be a sound NHL forward. The downside is that he is very similar in build and play style to Charlie Coyle (though maybe less of a battler). He could also be compared with Nino Niederreiter. The plus side is that gives Minnesota some flexibility; if they need to move Coyle or Nino for a trade, they can replace him with Kempe, or they can move Kempe instead.
We are, to some extent, past the immediately game-changing players in the draft. Kempe is a solid choice, however, and we should be excited to what he brings to the league.