Moving away from rebuilding and into a win-now mentality means spots are harder to come by on the Los Angeles Kings roster and that means some prospects get lost in the shuffle.
One of those prospects who’s in danger of being lost is 2019 second-round pick Samuel Fagemo.
Now 23 years old, Fagemo’s played just nine NHL games and is getting to an age where your NHL chances become fewer and fewer. There aren’t many forwards who fully break into the league for the first time in their mid-20s. And the ones that do rarely look like Fagemo.
They’re usually hard-nosed physical forwards, not all-offense wingers.
That’s not to say Fagemo has no hope, he was a late bloomer as a prospect, and it’s very possible he’s a late bloomer as a pro too. And there are still plenty of people within the organization that believe in Fagemo.
2022-23 Season Review
He was slotted to be a full-time NHLer last season but an underwhelming training camp changed those plans. He spent most of the season in the AHL but did earn himself nine NHL games, scoring his first NHL goal and finishing with two goals and one assist in those games.
It was another prolific season for him in the AHL, scoring 23 goals and adding nine assists in 56 games.
A good season, but technically a regression from the season before, you can chalk some of that up to the Reign regressing as a team.
We didn’t learn anything about Fagemo in the last season though. He stagnated a little bit.
He has a world-class shot and feasts on the man advantage — 13 of his 23 goals came on the power play — but doesn’t do much in his own zone and struggles to create at five-on-five. He also finished the season with a team-worst -24.
And his numbers during his nine NHL games weren’t great. The Kings were outscored seven to three with him on the ice and were heavily outshot with him on the ice. You shouldn’t read too much into such a small sample size, but he didn’t exactly light it up with the Kings.
In isolation, it was a fine year for Fagemo finishing second on the team in goals and fifth in total points. But, given the context of his season, it needed to be better. The numbers he posted won’t force his way onto the Kings’ roster.
This is going to be a massive summer for Fagemo. A restricted free agent this summer, he’ll almost certainly be brought back, but he’s no longer waiver exempt. If he doesn’t make the team out of camp, he’s going through waivers.
On the other side of that coin, if he has another disappointing camp, it’s unlikely anyone claims him. But it still limits his options.
Looking at the Kings’ projected roster, it’s difficult to see where he fits in. The Kings aren’t short of goal scorers right now with Adrian Kempe, Arthur Kaliyev and Gabe Vilardi all already on the roster, leaving less room for Fagemo.
His main threat, his shot and the ability to score on the power play, are a bit redundant within the Kings’ system.
There are going to be bottom-six spots up for grabs next season. He’ll have to outplay one of Arthur Kaliyev, Carl Grundstrom or Rasmus Kupari to force his way onto the roster and it’s difficult to see that happening right now.
He runs the risk of becoming a tweener in the Kings’ system. An excellent AHL scorer who isn’t good enough to break into the team’s top nine but doesn’t fit a fourth-line role.
And with other prospects potentially jumping him soon; players like Alex Laferriere, Francesco Pinelli and Martin Chromiak, his future in this organization looks in doubt.
His future with the Kings isn’t dead yet, but if he can’t earn a spot on the roster this year the Kings might start shopping him. He still has value as a potential middle-six scorer who can help your power play, but it’s difficult to see a path onto the Kings’ roster for him.
It’s not over for Fagemo in Los Angeles by any means, but time is running out for him.