With the LA Kings’ development camp started, dev coach Mike Donnelly took some time to speak about prospects Alex Turcotte and Samuel Fagemo.
Development camp for the LA Kings is now underway in El Segundo. So, with a slew of prospects mixed in with a few invitees, the Kings are hoping to get a lot out of this week. After all, the more collective progress they see from those attending, the better. For a couple of prospects, in particular, though — Alex Turcotte and Samuel Fagemo — the recent development period has marked a crucial juncture in their respective careers. On Monday, development coach Mike Donnelly spoke about the two players.
Taken 50th overall by the Kings in 2019, winger Samuel Fagemo only got his first taste of North American hockey last season.
In 32 games for the Ontario Reign, the 21-year-old scored 10 goals and eight assists. Yet, while he has a lot going for him — which includes good hands, a creative side, and a hard, accurate shot — Fagemo still needs time to get used to the North American game. From Mike Donnelly’s vantage point, though, the Goteborg, Sweden, native has come a long way in a short amount of time.
“I think he’s made big strides,” Donnelly said. “It’s tough coming from Europe and playing, getting used to the different ice surfaces and a different style of hockey. So, I think it’s always a bit of a transition for European guys.”
Fortunately for Fagemo, he possesses the right kind of attitude.
“He’s very coachable,” Donnelly added. “He really wants to get better, he pushes himself hard, and he’s– I think his curve is– I think he’s doing great.”
As for Alex Turcotte, it is fair to say that more pressure has been bestowed upon him — even if that pressure is, in many ways, anything but fair. Nevertheless, being drafted fifth overall will do that, and Turcotte, taken by the Kings in 2019, has had some setbacks thus far with injuries. This doesn’t seem to faze Mike Donnelly or the club’s development staff, though. In fact, the 20-year-old is coming a very productive summer, which has left the Kings’ development squad glowing.
“Turc’s really– oh, he’s had a great summer,” beamed Donnelly. “He’s working very hard. He understands how hard it’s going to be to make it and he’s putting the work in. He’s putting the work in the gym, he’s working on his game, and his effort, just like how he plays on the ice, is how he’s training in the summer, and I’m seeing huge strides in him from last year to– just throughout the summer, I’ve seen a big, big– notice a big difference in his game right now.”
Donnelly went on to elaborate on his team’s evaluation process with Fagemo and Turcotte.
“I think both boys, like, with last year with the COVID situation was difficult as far as development, it was a tough year,” he admitted. “So, I think both boys have really good offensive instincts, and they just got to get stronger and learn the pro game. It’s not easy. The American [Hockey] League is a hard league, there’s a lot of good players in it, and I think you look at both of them and they’re– they both had good first years. Exciting to see and we know that they’re both talented and we just got to keep working with them getting them better every day and not put too much pressure on them. They’re young kids and it’s a hard league, and we want to teach them the right way. We want them to develop the right way and we don’t want to push them in there, and we want to make sure that they’re just continually getting better every day. That’s our goal.
“There’s a fine line how we try to evaluate. We kind of look at them, watching games and seeing what things they need to work on, and then also we look at things that we believe [in] as far as the LA Kings, what we want to teach our guys and what we feel is the right way to do it so they can play in the league for a long time.”
With Day 1 of the Kings’ development camp now in the books, the excitement of what’s to come for Day 2 and beyond has become more or less palpable. Nevertheless, this time of year is one of the most important times for the Kings, especially having to wait an especially long time for this due to the COVID-inspired shutdown last year. Better late than never, though, and the Kings and their prospects are all hoping to reap the benefits of a long summer this week in El Segundo.