Samuel Fagemo has had quite the journey over the last week and two days.
During that span, he played overseas in Melbourne, Australia, flew back to the U.S., was placed on waivers by the Los Angeles Kings, claimed by the Nashville Predators and skated with his new team at Centennial Sportsplex on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Although he participated in Kings training camp up until Monday, the 23-year-old Fagemo has the deck stacked against him, so to speak, joining the Predators with just two practices and two preseason games against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and Friday left in their camp.
The NHL’s deadline to submit opening-night rosters is Monday, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. CT, meaning Fagemo has between now and mid-day Monday to convince the Predators that he deserves one of those spots more than Luke Evangelista, Philip Tomasino, Kiefer Sherwood, Michael McCarron or Cole Smith.
“It’s hard [coming in at the end of camp],” Predators head coach Andrew Brunette said. “You feel for those players in that position because there’s only a limited time to make an impression, you have new teammates, it’s a new system, there’s so many new things going through that. So, I think we have to be a little bit mindful of that, be patient, and hopefully get a glimpse of him the next few days in practice and make an assessment then.”
Nashville has already sent a handful of promising young guns back to the American Hockey League — Egor Afanasyev, Joakim Kemell, Zachary L’Heureux, Reid Schaefer, Fedor Svechkov — leaving Tomasino and Evangelista as the last of the team’s top prospects battling to stay in the NHL.
The competition is stiff, but through two practices, Fagemo has given a good account of himself. He’s displayed a sharp and accurate shot, great speed, excellent puck-handling skills and strong skating ability.
In short, Fagemo very much fits into the new offensive system that the Predators are running this season, and Brunette certainly noticed.
“He can really shoot the puck and he can skate,” Brunette stated. “We got a little look out of him on the power play today. I’m really looking forward to see him in a real game [Thursday against the Hurricanes], so that’ll help our assessment. It’s hard coming in this late, but his track record is he’s produced at every level and we’ll see if he can do it here.”
The raw talent is there. Fagemo scored 23 goals and 32 points in 56 games for the Ontario Reign last season, and he tallied 27 goals and 44 points the season before that, also with the Reign. Nearly half of his AHL goals came via the power play, and he plays his best hockey in the offensive zone.
The question that needs answered now isn’t whether Fagemo is talented enough to stick with the Predators but does he have enough time to convince them of it?
Nashville essentially has four and a half days to evaluate the Swede and decide if its offense is better with him in it. If he doesn’t make the opening-night roster, the Predators will have to put Fagemo on waivers in order to send him to Milwaukee, opening the door for another team to claim him.
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