As the story goes, the Kings wanted to draft Swedish winger Samuel Fagemo in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, but they ran out of draft picks and weren’t able to acquire a pick to get back into the draft. Fagemo didn’t know that at the time, but he did use that as motivation to improve his game to ensure he wouldn’t be skipped over the next year.
“It was sad there in the draft there in Dallas,” Fagemo said earlier this week at the World Junior Summer Showcase. “I just believed in myself, worked hard and just keep on developing, work on my game.” While Fagemo spent some time this past season in Frölunda’s junior league, he also played 42 regular season games in the SHL and blossomed there as a goal scorer. Frölunda captured both the Champions Hockey League title as well as the SHL championship, so Fagemo got immediate exposure to long playoff runs and big games.
Until Sweden’s last game, Fagemo had had a quiet tournament in Plymouth. He sat out one game as a scratch, having collected only one point over three games.
Saturday was a different story. With both teams fairly evenly matched, Sweden and Finland traded chances, but it was Fagemo who scored first, coming in alone against Swedish goalie Justus Annunen.
He’d score twice more before the game was done: another goal from up close on a play that started on a Finnish turnover, and an empty netter at the 16:14 mark of the third period, assisted by (possible future teammate) Tobias Bjornfot.
When asked after the game what helped him elevate his game, Fagemo said it was all about the team. “It was tough losses there in the previous games,” he said. “I was pumped up and the team was pumped up to get a huge win today. I was very excited to play today and play my best game of the tournament.”
While Fagemo will ultimately return to Sweden for the 2019-20 season as Frölunda looks to defend their championship, he will be back for training camp and the rookie tournament in Anaheim next month. His biggest goal for the coming season? “Develop even more to make the NHL someday.”
As a player previously passed up in the draft who used that as motivation to have an explosive season, don’t count Fagemo out from making his dream a reality.
More notes from Michigan...
- Fagemo finished with four points, all goals, in four games, which put him second in scoring for Team Sweden. He took 11 shots on goal, good for third on the team, took one penalty, and overall was a plus-2 for the tournament. He plays an energetic game and, at least in the final game against Finland, always seemed to be well placed to receive the puck around the net.
- Tobias Bjornfot had two points over five games, and six shots on goal. He took one penalty and was a minus-3. He doesn’t play a flashy game but overall looks reliable; Sweden’s problems on defense in these games can’t be rested on Bjornfot’s play. He’s the kind of player who goes unnoticed for most of the game, because he’s not having to rush to get back in position or cover up for a mistake.
- For Finland, Kim Nousiainen played a quiet game as well. Known as more of an offensive defenseman for his play on KalPa’s U20 team, Nousiainen took on a more defensive role here. While he did see significant power play time, he was also noticeable (in good ways) in his own end, blocking shots and taking away shooting lanes from players. He finished the tournament with no points over five games and four total shots on goal. Nousiainen took four penalties and was a minus-2.
- In case you didn’t know yet, Arthur Kaliyev loves to shoot the puck. He finished play with 22 shots on goal over five games, good for second out of all skaters. He was behind teammate Cole Caufield, who finished with 24 shots on goal. He had five points (four goals and one assist) in five games, took one penalty, and finished as a plus-2.
- Alex Turcotte showed off his skill as a playmaker, recording three assists and one goal for a total of four points in five games. I’d like to see him shoot the puck more; he finished with six total shots over five games, and no shots in the final game against Canada. But he’s a delight to watch and already plays a very intelligent 200-foot game, a rarity in such a young player.
- For Canada, Aidan Dudas certainly fills the role of “netfront pest”, despite his smaller stature. He plays a very energetic game and looks to love to be the guy in front of the net trying to irritate the opponent’s goalie. In three games, Dudas recorded three assists (all in the game against Sweden) but took just one shot on goal. He took no penalties and was a plus-3.
- Akil Thomas remains an enigma on ice. He had a dismal start to his tournament, finally got into gear against Sweden, and then was scratched from Canada’s final game. (Other high-profile players, including Bowen Byram, were scratched from that game as well, so I wouldn’t read much into Thomas’ scratch.) It was hard to get a read on who the real Thomas was, but after missing out on the opportunity to represent Canada last year, he’s motivated to make sure they remember his performance from the Sweden game. He finished with three points (one goal, two assists) in three games, six shots on goal, three penalties, and was a plus-2.