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Kings rookie Adrian Kempe earns rare praise from Coach Darryl Sutter

Kings rookie Adrian Kempe earns rare praise from Coach Darryl Sutter
The Kings' Adrian Kempe, left, moves the puck past the Ducks' Jacob Larsson on Oct. 2. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is deliberate with compliments.

In other words, he rarely hands them out, especially to rookies.

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Which is why his comments about forward Adrian Kempe were noteworthy. Sutter called the versatile prospect from Sweden "a fast player" and "a smart player."

"In some ways, he's flown under the radar here," Sutter said. "Others have been given credit, or assumptions, but he's clearly outplayed them."

Kempe played 55 games with the Kings' American Hockey League affiliate in Ontario (Calif.) last season, recording 11 goals and 28 points. His growth has been noticeable.

"He's just a year older, just straight maturity," Sutter said. "With the hockey IQ he has and the speed that he has, the only adjustment is experience.

"He's adjusted to the ice and you can see that. He's a fun player to watch."

The Kings' Adrian Kempe, left, and Rob Scuderi defend the Ducks' Jakob Silfverberg.
The Kings' Adrian Kempe, left, and Rob Scuderi defend the Ducks' Jakob Silfverberg. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Meanwhile, signs are pointing to the end of Rob Scuderi's playing tenure with the Kings.

The veteran defenseman is not with team in Las Vegas, where the Kings will play the Dallas Stars on Friday night. Their final exhibition game, also in Las Vegas, is on Saturday against Colorado.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi declined to comment on Scuderi's future.

"Scuds has had a tough camp," Sutter said Friday after the morning skate. "He's only been in one game and, in another game, he was slotted in and he wasn't healthy to go. Dean sat down with him yesterday or the day before and went over it."

Scuderi, 37, was a big part of the Kings' first Stanley Cup championship team, in 2012. He left the Kings, returning to Pittsburgh in 2013 and came back to Los Angeles last season, in February.

The Kings sent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to Chicago in exchange for Scuderi, who played in 21 games down the stretch.

"We weren't going to be able to get him in either one of these games," Sutter said. "It's been a tough camp for him .… On the record, I have way too much respect for Scuds, for what he's done, to even get into it [the future]. I said at the start of camp I wanted all the guys to do well and wanted to give them every opportunity, and when he got banged up, we haven't been able to do that.

"Once we go into the final weekend, we're still with a lot of defensemen."

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