Happy Thursday, Insiders!
Some roster movement this morning for the Kings, with four transactions announced by the team prior in advance of the team’s AM skate.
The Kings have recalled three players – defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, as well as forwards Samuel Fagemo and Alex Turcotte – from the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Additionally, the team has placed forward Carl Grundstrom on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Bjornfot’s recall makes sense. The Kings have been carrying just six defensemen since Jordan Spence was assigned to the Reign back on January 12. The Kings have seven games coming up here over the next 13 days, in seven cities, beginning tonight against Dallas. With a back-to-back over the last two nights in Colorado, tonight would make a 3-in-3 for Bjornfot should he check in, so we won’t expect to see a change on the blueline, but he brings strong skating ability and NHL familiarity to the Kings, with 110 games to his name.
“He’s been real good in the American League and I thought he was solid tonight,” McLellan said of Bjornfot after his season debut. “He plays well when he uses his legs, when he’s active, when he’s up, he’s back, he’s closing. If he’s just kind of standing around, waiting for things to come to him, it doesn’t go real well. Tonight, he used his legs really well.”
Regarding the forwards, the Kings have just 11 healthy forwards for sure, with Gabe Vilardi currently day-to-day. Vilardi could still play tonight and we’ll find out his availability hopefully here after the morning skate. However, the Kings naturally won’t just sit on a potential availability, hense the roster moves.
Starting with Fagemo, he would be the most likely option to play tonight should Vilardi not be able to go. Fagemo did not play with the Reign yesterday, in what was surely a proactive move for tonight’s Kings game. Fagemo has a goal and an assist from three NHL games played so far this season and was spoken highly of in a limited role, which was mostly fourth-line duty. Fagemo has 12 goals from 27 AHL games this season, 30-goal pace over the course of a full AHL slate, which is more than solid. Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan is an on-record supporter of Fagemo, and we’ll assume he’d be the first man up should a player be needed this evening.
“I thought that was the best I’ve seen Sammy play this year,” McLellan said of Fagemo after his season debut in December. “We talked about his training camp, we really hoped that he would be here full time, but he didn’t have the camp that we anticipated and I’m sure himself. That is the best game that I’ve seen Sammy play, exhibition and regular season, this year. Hats off to him for having an impact.”
On Turcotte, good on him for earning another recall. Turcotte has certainly had a difficult go of it this season, beginning with a challenging summer as he recovered from a head injury suffered during the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs in May. Turcotte didn’t make his season debut with the AHL club until mid-November, and has worked through a couple of additional ailments since, but has played some very good hockey as of late, with six points (3-3-6) over his last five games played. Turcotte provides versatility, with the ability to play both at center and on the wing, which will be important as the Kings hit the road. A well-deserved recall for the Illinois native.
“He was outstanding,” Marco Sturm said, after a two-point night in late-December. “I thought it was by far his best game today. He seemed happy. I think he’s a better centerman anyway, but we needed a guy [at center] and we thought we did the right thing. I still think we did the right thing, but he’s I think he’s more of a centerman and you can see today. Yes, we have to work with him especially on the defensive side of it but he did some really good things today and I was really happy about his game.”
Regarding Grundstrom, he was injured during practice on Tuesday, leaving the skate early. Grundstrom did not practice with the team yesterday and Head Coach Todd McLellan indicated that he would not accompany the team on their upcoming, six-game roadtrip and would be out of action through the end of that trip, which has a ten-day break in between games on the other side of it. More on Grundstrom’s injury, as well as the day-to-day status of forward Gabe Vilardi, here.
The Kings are on the ice for morning skate here in a few minutes and we’ll see if we get an update on Vilardi’s status then. Not expecting Bjornfot or Turcotte on the ice, as they won’t be back in time, but Fagemo will be expected to be there. More to follow in the game preview!
From the team’s official release –
Bjornfot, 21, earned an assist (0-1=1) in four games with the Kings after opening the season with the Reign where he registered four points (2-2=4) with a plus-5 rating in 29 games. The 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft is a veteran of 110 NHL games with the Kings and has collected 15 points (1-14=15). The 6-0, 200-pound defenseman has scored 23 points (8-15=23) in 74 career AHL games with Ontario.
Fagemo, 22, has appeared in three games with the Kings this season, scoring his first two NHL points (1-1=2), including his first NHL goal Dec. 3 against Carolina. The 6-0, 200-pound forward also suited up in 27 AHL games with Ontario, collecting 18 points (12-6=18). In 122 AHL games with the Reign, the Goteborg, Sweden native has compiled 80 points (49-31=80) with 46 penalty minutes (PIM) and a plus-8 rating.
Turcotte, 21, has skated in 18 games with Ontario this season, registering 12 points (5-7=12) and a plus-5 rating. Drafted fifth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Turcotte has appeared in eight NHL contests with the Kings after making his NHL debut last season. The 5-11, 185-pound forward has posted 51 points (17-34=51) with 52 PIM and a plus-19 rating in 77 career AHL games.
Grundstrom, 25, has played in 34 games with the Kings this season, collecting 10 points (6-4=10) to reach a double-digit scoring total for a third consecutive season. Originally drafted in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 6-0, 195-pound forward was acquired by the Kings on Jan. 28, 2019 along with Sean Durzi and a 2019 first round pick. A native of Umea, Sweden, Grundstrom has appeared in 166 career NHL games, all with the Kings, and has earned 46 points (26-20=46).
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