It looks like the Arizona Coyotes have begun to set their offseason plans into action, as reports indicate that the team has signed Swedish winger Mario Kempe to a one-year contract.
Kempe, 28, was a right winger for HC Vityaz of the KHL for the last three seasons, where he scored 39 goals and 83 points in 166 games.
The Kramfors, Sweden native first came to North America in 2006 after being drafted by the QMJHL’s St. John’s Fog Devils with the 31st overall pick in the CHL Import Draft. Kempe also represented Sweden at the U18 World Junior Championships in 2006 and was a member of the silver-medal winning 2008 World Junior Championship team.
After bouncing around the Swedish Hockey League - Kempe played for five teams in seven years - he found a home just outside of Moscow.
Last year, Kempe was fifth in scoring for Vityaz and also cut down his penalty minutes by more than half (64 PIM in 2015-16, 28 PIM in 2016-17), while playing the same number of games.
However, Kempe probably won’t be asked to do much scoring in Arizona. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward has proven to be a decent skating, two-way forward and could fill a bottom half depth role for the Coyotes.
If he does make the team out of camp, it would give Kempe a chance to play in his first NHL game, a feat his younger brother, Adrian, accomplished 25 times with the Los Angeles Kings last year.
Kempe is just the latest Vityaz product to move to the NHL. Montreal signed defenseman Jakub Jerabek from the Russian club earlier this month, while the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2016 first round pick German Rubtsov was also a Vityaz player before switching to the QMJHL midway through last season.