Still amidst this unique season as a result of COVID-19, often overlooked among those impacted in professional sports are the athletes themselves. We as fans have missed watching the Kings and Reign in person for the long year-plus months that was. Yet, during those Kingless and Reignless months saw some bright lights shine on the Kings youth movement. One of those lights has been 21-year-old Samuel Fagemo, one of the organization’s highly touted top prospects, who officially came across the pond and joined the Los Angeles Kings organization.
Having moved halfway across the world by himself in a time where you’re confined to your room, and at times and only your room, Fagemo could have many reasons to make excuses and not perform to the highest of both his abilities and the organization’s expectations. That has not been the case.
“The move to America hasn’t been too hard for me,” he said. “I’m lucky to have some other Swedes here, in Tobias Bjornfot, Johan Sodergran and Jacob Moverare who have helped me get comfortable. They’ve helped me have a lot of fun here and have made the move across countries much easier, and the team has been super helpful too. It makes it a lot easier when you can move to such a nice city.”
As Fagemo gets comfortable with life off the ice, on the ice, the Göteberg, Sweden native has been as advertised. Drafted 50th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Fagemo has brought with him an offensive artillery that sets him apart from your average NHL prospect. With 13 points (7-6-13) in 20 games, Fagemo ranks second on the Reign in goals, despite missing the last few weeks with an injury.
As one of the 13 players with rookie status on the Reign’s roster this season, Fagemo’s experience prior to joining Ontario allowed him the unique opportunity to play professionally against grown men in Sweden. In 2018, as an 18-year-old, Fagemo made the Frolunda Indians, one of top teams in SHL (Sweden’s top professional league). In 42 games that season, Fagemo became a vital part of the Frolunda offense, finishing second on the team in goals in both the regular season and the playoffs in route to winning the Le Mat Trophy (the SHL’s championship).
With a total 57 points (27-30-57) and two years of experience in the SHL, Fagemo credits his time in Frolunda to helping him be ready for playing professional hockey in here in the American Hockey League.
“Having played two years of professional hockey in Frolunda in the SHL prepared me a lot,” he explained. “I was able to play against men older than me who had stronger bodies and I think that was the most important factor that helped me get ready for professional hockey here in the United States. I was able to get used to playing against people older and stronger than me.”
At the LA Kings State of the Franchise event, Kings Director of Player Personnel Nelson Emerson highlighted Fagemo and teammate Rasmus Kupari two of the younger players who have stood out from a group of highly-touted younger players with Ontario. Emerson pointed to their experience playing professionally, against men, in Europe as a big reason why.
“Two of the players that, right from the beginning of the year were ready to go, were Kupari and Fagemo,” Emerson said. “It’s interesting, when you look at those players, both of those players have played pro hockey before, maybe not in North America, but they played pro hockey in Europe. Fagemo played in the SHL last year and that’s a tremendous league, you’re playing against older players, they play defensive, a lot of great coaches in this league. Those players, I think they had the upper hand on some of the younger guys, who are rookies in the American League.”
The success and offensive upside that has been on display this season from Fagemo isn’t just because of his time in the SHL, though. He has continued to develop, and hone his craft, playing with the Reign.
One valuable factor in the Swede’s growth has been his current assistant coach with the Reign, Craig Johnson. Formerly a member of the Kings Player Development Staff (2018-20), Johnson has been working with Fagemo ever since he was drafted. Having had the guidance of Johnson, like many of the current Reign players have had, Fagemo credits his growth in the ice to his current bench boss.
“Coach Johnson has helped me a lot,” Fagemo said. “Over past few years and over the summer, he and I have watched a lot of film together on Zoom and it really helped me understand my strengths which helped me develop and get better. Now that I’m here in the U.S., he’s been really positive and gives me great feedback on my game and our team’s game every day.”
Wise beyond his years, Fagemo isn’t getting ahead of himself. Focused on developing and improving his craft, the talented prospect understands the process of what it will take to someday get that promotion to a Kings uniform.
“I’m working hard to create as many scoring chances as possible. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job, but I’ve just got to keep working hard and never be satisfied with my game,” Fagemo told LAKI. “I’ve got to keep shooting the puck and going to the net, that’s where good things happen.”
With a number of prospects having been called up to Kings already this year, when healthy, Fagemo has the potential to find himself in that conversation given his performance and offensive output this season for Ontario.
With the possibility of making the NHL, Fagemo remains focused on what’s in front of him with the Reign, but did divulge what it’d mean to one day playing for the big club.
“I just have to be patient and be consistent in my game on and off the ice,” he said. “I have to play my best, compete and work hard every day. If I do that, hopefully I can get that chance someday. It’s my biggest goal, to play in the NHL someday, it’d be a dream come true to play in the NHL and for the Kings especially. I’ve worked hard all my life for that opportunity, but I have to be patient and trust the process and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”