It’s been a few years since Mario Kempe was suiting up in the NHL and it appears as though a return to North America isn’t ever going to come. The veteran forward has signed a new two-year deal with Lulea HF in Sweden.
Kempe, 34, has spent the last three seasons in the KHL, after playing 52 games for the Arizona Coyotes in 2018-19. The older brother of Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe, he was a fifth-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007 that only ever played eight games for the organization, all at the minor league level. An elite skater, he had lots of success in North America, including two seasons with the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL, but never seemed content to spend his years in the AHL.
Throughout his career, Kempe has played all over the world, suiting up last season in Belarus with Dinamo Minsk. His return to the SHL is a long-awaited homecoming, given he hasn’t played in Sweden since 2014.
A two-year deal essentially removes any chance of another AHL stint, though it seemed unlikely already. In 70 career NHL games, Kempe scored 13 points.