Amateur scouting worldwide has improved exponentially over the last two decades. Players are much more accessible, we’ve become considerably more knowledgeable in the way the game is trending, and there is years and years of data at our disposal. It’s because of these advancements that players like Pavel Datsyuk don’t get drafted in the 6th round of their third year of eligibility anymore. But that doesn’t mean the hockey world isn’t prone to a few slips ups of a lesser magnitude every once in a while. An overager typically gets drafted in the first two or three rounds every year, some even in the first round like Henrik Borgstrom and Tanner Pearson from recent memory.
The latest example is Samuel Fagemo, who was passed over 217 times in the 2018 NHL draft. All he has done since is enjoyed a historic statistical draft-plus-one season which included championships in both the SHL and Champions Hockey League. He has made a case to be selected in the first round as one of the 2019 draft’s most lethal snipers.
|Birthday||March 14, 2000|
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 50 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 55 – Physicality: 50
As the season progressed I felt Fagemo kept getting better. That is especially important for a player as old as Fagemo. He began the year with Frolunda’s junior league affiliate and absolutely torched the competition with 10 goals and 14 points in 8 games. Once he was called up to the pro league team he demanded more and more ice-time with his play on the ice.
After an early battle for ice time, Fagemo began receiving around 15 minutes per game by mid-season in a top-6 role with powerplay time. Obviously, over a game-to-game basis with a 42 game sample size the results will have some inconsistencies but this TOI increase is pretty evident. That is quite impressive for a teenager in a league where playing time is hard to come by for younger players. That is especially true considering he plays for the SHL’s best team in the Frolunda Indians. He took advantage of his extended opportunity and ran with it. He was so comfortable playing against men and didn’t look out-of-place once he got rolling. It culminated into one of the best under-19 seasons in SHL history.
Stats via eliteprospects.com
With 14 goals and 25 points, Fagemo is now the owner of the 10th highest scoring season by an under-19 player all-time in the SHL. Out of the nine names ahead of him you can argue four of them are Hockey Hall Of Fame worthy — that is quite the list to be apart of. In terms of goal scoring, only four under-19 players have ever had more goals in one season. He also outscored recent top-62 picks such as Dominik Bokk, Jonatan Berggren, Albin Eriksson, and Filip Hallander.
What makes Fagemo such a dangerous scorer for his age is his top-end shot. He has shown the ability to score from range with a lightning quick release and pinpoint accuracy.
Notice how little time he spends considering the placement of his shot. The shot becomes very unpredictable for goaltenders to read and leaves them not much time to think. The way he opens up his shot is key to how he pounces on the open space he finds. Taking advantage of space makes all the difference in the world when it comes to pure goal scorers. The reason for that is because a flaw many snipers share is their inability to create for themselves. While I’m not labeling Fagemo as a pure goal scorer, it’s still the biggest strength of his game and there are times when he over relies on his teammates to get him the puck.
Poor play away from the puck doesn’t always bode well for players who make a living off their instincts. Playing on a stacked Frolunda team, Fagemo had a plethora of top-end players (relative to the SHL) feeding him the puck. Not being demanding of the puck takes its toll on a player’s ability to drive play. There is a noticeable drop in value that is difficult to ignore when you have to consider finding him a running mate. Add in the fact that Fagemo doesn’t have the puck skills or skating to match other highly touted goal scorers from this draft class such as Cole Caufield or Egor Afanasyev. That is the main difference in why I consider the latter two sure-fire top-20 picks and the former a fringe first round pick.
Now, that is not meant to take away from Fagemo as an overall player. He is still capable of pulling of skill plays that require strong offensive instincts and intelligence. He is able to anticipate the play, but more importantly, he is able to react to what he sees. He has the smarts to recognize the high percentage plays, which played a big part in his scoring rate.
However, if you’re going to target Fagemo it’s for his goal scoring ability — which includes a lot of untapped potential as a flank on the left circle on the powerplay — and not necessarily his intelligence or puck skills. The absence of a trait that will wow you outside of his shot is a little too far-fetched for some to consider him in the first round, but I believe the rest of his game is well-rounded enough to develop into a quality depth scoring option down the road.
Because Fagemo has had an extra year of development than his peers his path to the NHL will be a bit more fast-tracked. It’s very beneficial that he is playing over in Sweden, giving him the opportunity to play in the AHL right away. That wouldn’t be the case if he was being drafted out of the CHL, where certain restrictions would force him to play another season due to his March birthday.
I’d as advised Fagemo to come play in North America as soon as possible. His experience against men leaves great confidence he can handle the change of scenery. While the NHL isn’t completely out of the realm of realism for next season, the AHL makes more sense in that it gives him an adjustment period on the smaller ice surfaces. That transition isn’t easy for everyone and because of Fagemo’s average skating and puck skills he’ll need the time to refine his game. As good as he is at recognizing space, creating space is just as important, especially if he wants to unleash his shot.