“I see this as my revenge” – Fagemo bounces back after being overlooked
It wasn’t what Samuel Fagemo expected. Sure, the 18-year old Swede had a 2017/18 season that was plagued by injury and some inconsistencies, but he figured that he had shown enough to be one of the 217 players chosen at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas.
To his surprise and great disappointment, the 31 teams in the league didn’t agree.
When everything was said and done, the right shooting forward from Frölunda remained untouched throughout the seven rounds.
“I was really hoping that someone would pick me, but they didn’t. I know you can never count on being selected, but I thought I had a good enough year so obviously, I was really disappointed.”
The disappointment that came with being left out stung, but he didn’t have to be sour for very long. The Arizona Coyotes gave him a phone call and an invitation to their development camp. That was just what the doctor had ordered for Fagemo.
“I just had to pack a suitcase and leave. It was a boost to get that phone call and I saw that as an opportunity to do something great. I was there for two weeks and had a blast. Really nice weather and great hockey”, he recalls.
PLAYED FOR THE JR. COYOTES
Believe it or not, this was not the first time he donned the canine jersey. During the 2009/10 season, his dad and former pro Linus Fagemo brought the family to the desert to play for the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL. Samuel Fagemo ended up playing hockey there as well.
“I actually played for the Arizona Jr. Coyotes when he was there and I was like ten years old, so it was very special for me that the Coyotes brought me over. A childhood dream coming to life.”
The Coyotes brought him over for their rookie camp in September as well. Before going there, the youngster had to make a big decision. He had the option to stay in Sweden to try to crack Frölunda’s SHL lineup or go to Canada to play for QMJHL powerhouse and Memorial Cup host, the Halifax Mooseheads, that picked up his CHL rights in the import draft in July.
He finally decided to stay.
“SHL is a really good league and I felt like it would be the best decision for my development to play here. Frölunda is really good at developing young players and they’ve shown that they are willing to give young guys a chance in the SHL. That made the decision a bit easier. This is home and I really enjoy playing here. I’m really happy I decided to stay here.”
SCORED A HAT-TRICK
So far, it has proved to be a great decision. After scoring ten goals and adding four assists in eight games with Frölunda’s U20 team, he was promoted to the SHL. Samuel Fagemo didn’t disappoint.
After going pointless from his two first games, he picked up two helpers in his third game against Luleå on October 11th and scored his first SHL goal versus Färjestad two days later. He also managed to squeeze in a hat-trick in a Champions Hockey League game against Danish outfit Aalborg.
“Frölunda put a lot of faith in me, but I also feel like I’ve taken advantage of that. I feel like I can play here, be a player that can create offense and help the team. My self-confidence has been high since the start of the season and I feel I’m making progress with every game.”
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) October 18, 2018
Coach Roger Rönnberg like the youngsters progress so much that he was promoted to the top line, playing with veteran center and captain Joel Lundqvist, the twin brother of a certain New York Rangers goalie, and American star forward Ryan Lasch.
“It’s huge. It’s two great players I’ve been following for a long time and that have a really good skill set. It was a special feeling to get that kind of opportunity”, Samuel Fagemo told EP Rinkside after their first game together, a shootout win against Djurgården, on November 15th.
Rönnberg calls Fagemo “a sniper” and refers to his season as “a great success” thus far.
“He was injured from time to time last season and spent a lot of time with our strength and conditioning coach (Pär Edlund). Those who spend a lot of time with him usually get stronger and better. That’s what has happened to Fagemo as well. He now has the stamina and strength to perform at this level. On top of that, he’s a very skilled hockey player so I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to add him to our team.”
VYING FOR A WJC SPOT
Samuel Fagemo’s breakthrough has made him a strong candidate to make the Swedish WJC team. In a year where the Swedes lack the type of star-driven offense that Elias Pettersson, Lias Andersson, and Alex Nylander provided them with last year, a player of his ilk is what Swedish head coach Tomas Montén is looking for.
Fagemo was one of only two Swedish players to score for the Swedish U20 team in the four nations’ tournament in the Czech Republic, the last test before the WJC starts in Vancouver and Victoria next month. Sweden lost all three games against the Czechs, Russians, and Finns with a collective score of 14–2.
“It obviously wasn’t what we were looking for, but I was still happy with the way I performed. I got a lot of ice-time and played in all kind of situations, both the power play and the penalty kill. I felt like it was a good tournament for me”, said Fagemo who had never played for the Swedish U20 team prior to that tournament.
— Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory) November 11, 2018
With a successful start to the SHL season and a potential spot on the Swedish WJC roster, no one would blame Samuel Fagemo if he had his eyes set on next year’s entry draft in Vancouver. But even though he’s very pleased with being able to prove a lot of people wrong, he feels it’s a good thing to stay within the moment.
“I see this as my revenge after not being chosen in the draft last summer, but at the same time, it’s kind of early to think about next year’s draft now. I think I’m playing good hockey and my goal is to keep doing that throughout the year. If I’m able to do that, good things will happen.”
More good things, that is.
* Written with the help of files from Måns Karlsson.