Cruise the recent rosters of the Frolunda Indians and you’ll find several constants: Joel Lundqvist is one, while a smattering of high-end kids are the other. The SHL squad always has a nice veteran scoring presence thanks to players like Henrik Lundqvist’s twin brother and imports such as Ryan Lasch, but the organization also gives youngsters a chance to shine. And boy, have they.
Over the past few years, Frolunda has graduated talent such as Rasmus Dahlin, Erik Gustafsson, Artturi Lehkonen, Andreas Johnsson, Lias Andersson, Jacob Larsson and Carl Grundstrom. And they have not suffered in the standings, either.
With a title in 2018-19, Frolunda has now won two of the past four SHL championships and the Gothenburg-based squad hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2010-11. Striking a balance between winning and developing makes Frolunda an ideal organization and one of the latest gems to be honed there is left winger Samuel Fagemo.
Passed over in the 2018 NHL draft, Fagemo took out his frustrations on the SHL this past season, with 25 points in 42 games – but more importantly, 10 points in 16 post-season matches. The Los Angeles Kings ended up nabbing Fagemo 50th overall at this year’s draft, assuring he wouldn’t be overlooked again.
“For sure there was a lot of motivation for me to show the scouts in the stands that I could be drafted too,” Fagemo said. “I’m super-happy to get drafted, finally.”
Knowing fellow Kings prospects Grundstrom and Jacob Moverare from Frolunda already will help Fagemo get a sense of what the organization is like, but Los Angeles didn’t need much convincing that the left winger will be a fit: they signed Fagemo to his entry-level contract just weeks after the draft.
“Samuel is a high-energy player who scores goals,” said Christian Ruuttu, the Kings’ head European scout. “He is fearless when it comes to attacking the net. We liked him a lot last year too and he has improved his game since.”
One of the reasons Fagemo was passed over in 2018 was his defense; there has never been a question about his scoring talent (he lists Filip Forsberg and Alex Ovechkin as two of his NHL favorites, after all). Rounding out his game was a priority for him this past season and running through the gauntlet of both the SHL playoffs and the European Champions League (which Frolunda also won the title in) certainly helped.
“It’s hard to win in the playoffs,” Fagemo said. “You need to be prepared every day and stay focused. You have to win every battle and play full, 60-minute hockey. It was a great experience to have a long playoff run and finally win the championship. It was a great memory for life.”
If there was one downer to the 2018-19 campaign, it was Sweden’s performance at the world juniors. Coming in with a strong group – though not a lot of high-end forwards outside of Fagemo and Columbus pick Emil Bemstrom – the Swedes were good early, but then got hit by a stomach flu that ripped through the team in Victoria. Then they couldn’t score against the Swiss in the quarterfinal and were sent home early, meaning the program has still won just two gold medals in the history of the tournament – first in 1981, then again in 2012. Still, Fagemo was more than happy to represent his country.
“It was just fun to go there and play hockey,” he said. “It was a tough loss against Switzerland in the quarterfinal, but that’s hockey sometimes.”
Fagemo is still eligible to play at the 2020 world juniors, where the Swedish offense looks to be a lot more dangerous. Top 2020 draft prospects Alex Holtz and Lucas Raymond will likely be on board this year and they could make a huge difference.
In the meantime, Fagemo will head back to Frolunda, where once again the Indians will trot out a nicely-balanced group (Raymond is also part of the organization). So what’s the secret?
“Great facilities, great coaches and great fans,” Fagemo said. “It’s perfect to develop there and it’s a great hockey city.”