The Los Angeles Kings signed forward Adrian Kempe to a four-year contract extension last weekend, which carries a $5.5 million cap hit.
Kempe is 25 years old and coming off a breakout season with the Kings, where he scored 35 goals and 54 points in 78 games. The winger was a restricted free agent.
Four years is a pretty expected term for Kempe's deal. There’s not a huge sample size of the forward having high-end production and it would’ve been somewhat of a gamble for the Kings to go for a long-term deal. That said, Kempe had obviously warranted more than just a short-term contract and with him turning 26 years old this year, Los Angeles bought some UFA years.
That said, the price on the four-year deal comes in possibly a bit higher than expected. Again, Kempe had only even managed a pace of 20 goals and 40 points per 82 games in one other season before this past year. His shooting percentage was also higher than normal and it’s questionable as to whether it’s sustainable. As a result, I would’ve expected we see the cap hit somewhere between $4.5 to $5 million on a four-year deal.
A $5.5 million cap hit seems like it would be more suitable for a bit of a longer-term deal, had the sides opted to go that route. It’s not a poor contract, just a bit high for the term and limited sample size of production.
That’s not to say Kempe won’t bring $5.5 million worth of value. If he can produce at a similar rate over the span of this deal, he’ll provide more value than what the Kings are paying him. It’s just more so that given the lack of sample size, the high cap hit is at least a bit of a gamble for the team.
Regardless though, the Kings locked up a key part of their forward group, which was the goal. Kempe is still fairly young and should play an important role in the top-six group for years to come.