LOS ANGELES — As the Los Angeles Kings concluded their 2021 Development Camp on August 27, their young prospects faced-off in a scrimmage.
After a full season with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League last year, along with a seven-game stint with the Kings last season when he scored his first NHL goal, center prospect Rasmus Kupari, one of the “older” players in camp, spoke briefly with the local media following the scrimmage.
“It was a good camp,” he said. “I got to know the new guys and work on some things that we need to learn, as forwards. [Jarret Stoll] and all the development staff did a great job with us.”
Looking back on his 2020-21 season, Kupari indicated that it was positive despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with trying to adjust to the North American game and being so far from home.
“I feel good,” he said. “I had a good summer back in Finland. Last year was huge for me. A full year with the Reign and a couple of games with the Kings, so I’m looking forward to [this] season.”
Speaking of this season, with the Kings fairly loaded at the center position throughout their system, Kupari might be destined to play on the wing instead. But he isn’t averse to the idea.
“That’s not a problem for me,” he stressed. “I can play as a [winger], too. I’ve been a center for most of my career. But if you’re a center, you have to be ready to play as a [winger]. I’m looking forward to that, if that’s the spot for me.”
Regardless of the forward position that he ends up playing, Kupari knows that his game still needs some work.
“The game is a little different here in North America with the smaller rinks,” he observed. “In Europe, there’s a lot more space, [so you] have more time with the puck. I need to be more direct with the puck and drive to the net. Maybe [I need to be] a little more physical, [too].”
“I’m thinking about that a little more, driving to the net, being a little bit more direct with my game,” he added. “Give and go’s, and that type of game. That’s one thing that I’ve been trying to work on, [along with] using my speed.”
LEAD PHOTO: Forward Rasmus Kupari (center), shown here immediately following being selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft on June 22, 2018. at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Kings.
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