ESPN recently released their predictions for the NHL’s top 100 players this season, and to say it caused some controversy is an understatement.
These kinds of lists are always problematic and have to be taken with a grain of salt, but it can still be fun to break them down.
- Four Los Angeles Kings players made the list: Drew Doughty (92nd), Pierre-Luc Dubois (73rd), Kevin Fiala (46th), and Anze Kopitar (45th).
- Adrian Kempe, despite his impressive goal-scoring record, was noticeably absent from the list.
- Kempe’s goal-scoring stats over the past two seasons place him among the league’s top scorers, making his exclusion from the list a point of contention.
I think these are all relatively fair rankings for these players. Sure Doughty could have been a bit higher, and maybe Kopitar too, but I don’t think any of these rankings are egregious.
However, what is egregious is the exclusion of Adrian Kempe.
Over the last two seasons, Kempe has established himself as one of the league’s premier goal scorers, and to leave him off this list is just wrong.
Kempe’s 76 goals over the last two seasons rank him 17th in the league, while his 41 goals last season ranked him 13th in the league.
Based on those numbers, it’s fair to say he’s a top-15 goal scorer in the league, but he manages to not crack the top 100 players.
If this was last summer and Kempe was coming off his first 30-goal season where he was also a liability defensively, I would get leaving him off.
But that isn’t the case. Kempe was solid defensively, played in all situations, and broke the 40-goal mark. What more does someone need to do?
This isn’t a knock on these players, but you’re telling me Ryan O’Reilly, Brock Boeser, and Matt Boldy are all better players than Kempe? That’s a massive stretch in my eyes.
Kempe is a true game-breaker who can beat teams in a variety of ways and play a responsible 200-foot game. He is certainly a top 100 player in the league and was robbed on this list.
Maybe another 40-goal season and a deep playoff run will get Kempe onto this list next season.
Maybe he’ll be joined by a few more Kings too.
In conclusion, ESPN’s NHL top 100 players list has sparked debate within the hockey community, with Adrian Kempe’s omission being a major talking point. Despite his impressive goal-scoring record, Kempe failed to secure a spot on the list, leaving fans and experts questioning the criteria used for these rankings. As the season progresses, Kempe has the opportunity to prove his worth and potentially earn a spot on next year’s list, alongside his fellow Kings teammates who have already made their mark in the league.